Tottenham have been presented with the trickiest of opening day fixtures to navigate this weekend, with Spurs set to host last season’s Premier League champions today (Sunday).
Nuno Espirito Santo’s debut domestic match in charge of his new club will be against Manchester City, although the Portuguese does have a better record than most when it comes to facing the Etihad outfit.
The two coaches have clashed seven times, with Nuno unbeaten in four of those as his Wolves side did the double over City in the 2019/20 season and drew 1-1 at Molineux in August 2018, before also beating City on penalties in the Premier League Asia Trophy in July 2019.
Brendan Rodgers, Jose Mourinho, Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are the only coaches who have a better points per match record against the Spaniard having faced him at least seven times.
Nuno’s record could be deemed as even more impressive considering that he’s been in charge of Wolves on those occasions compared to his peers, who have been able to manage the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Speaking about his approach in the past, Nuno said: “When you defend, you have to be compact, close to each other, knowing that the outside space is there but the moment it goes, we are there to engage.”
It remains to be seen what playing style Nuno will represent at Spurs, but it is reasonable to suggest that he’ll concede possession and execute a counter-attacking brand of football against City.
Spurs will likely attempt to maximise the moments that Wolves have managed to create against Guardiola over the years, with the transition set to be key.
The transfer window is in full swing and big moves are happening at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, so we want to keep you in the know and hear your thoughts and reactions.
By signing up to our Spurs newsletter you’ll be able to receive the latest Spurs news and rumours all in one place, as well as exclusive articles and insight from club writers Alasdair Gold and Rob Guest, all for free!
And, if you want to take part in the debate in the comments, or get your questions answered in the frequent Q&As with Alasdair and Rob, be sure to create an account to join the discussion.
Speaking about how to thrive in transition, the Portuguese has previously stated: “The important thing is the runners, the ones who can imbalance the defence by dragging them with movements. The runners are the ones who create space for the finishers.”
He will almost certainly lean on the pace and penetrative running of players such as Son Heung-min, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura in attack based on his comments and previous matches at Wolves, with a back five also possible.
A back four has been employed throughout pre-season but given the strength of City, Spurs could change for this isolated clash.
Ultimately, Nuno has shown the Premier League that he understands the type of game plan required to cause problems for Guardiola’s men and he’s likely to lean on those past principles on Sunday.