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Rafael Benitez expecting ‘aggressive’ Tottenham side under Antonio Conte

Rafael Benitez File Photo
(Image credit: Richard Sellers)

Everton manager Rafael Benitez admits it could be a bad time to face a Tottenham side he expects to be “aggressive” under new manager Antonio Conte.

Conte was appointed just 26 hours after Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked following four months in charge, an insipid 3-0 home Premier League defeat to Manchester United last weekend proving the final straw.

After taking charge of Spurs for the first time for the 3-2 Europa Conference League win over Vitesse Arnhem, former Chelsea boss Conte will be targeting three Premier League points at Goodison Park, with Everton desperate to avoid a fourth-straight defeat.

“We know that we will play against a very good team so cannot forget about that,” Benitez said. “Conte is a manager with experience and they have some good players so it will be difficult.

“Yes, maybe it is not the best moment because with a new manager they will have an extra motivation, but that is the difficulty of this competition. You have to compete against everyone, any time and we have to be ready.

“We saw against a lot of teams that we are capable to react and even in the last game that we lost (at Wolves on Monday), in the second half the team saw the commitment you are expecting, the reaction you are expecting so we can do it against Tottenham on Sunday.”

Asked what he felt was the trademark of a team managed by former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan boss Conte, Benitez added: “They used to be aggressive.

“It depends on the team that you coach. If you coach Juventus it’s the strongest team in Italy. If you coach Chelsea it’s one of the strongest in the Premier League so normally you have to be aggressive, you have to be on the front foot.

“Normally his teams have to go for the title so I think he’s this kind of manager. He wants to be competitive and win.”

Tottenham and Everton are separated by a point in the Premier League table after the Toffees suffered three straight defeats at the hands of West Ham, Watford and Wolves.

Benitez remains convinced his side will have a successful season once the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Abdoulaye Doucoure return from injury and is no doubt about what he wants to see from his players going forward.

“(I am looking for) what I have seen so many times this year,” he added.

“I have seen a team that can compete, that gives everything on the pitch, that plays good football in a lot of games and the reaction that we have against Wolves in the second half.

“Something like that I would like to see every game but I have to say again, ‘we know where we are, because we know where we were’.

“The team has certain characteristics and then we have to try to improve things, but Rome was not built in one day.”