Davinson Sanchez exclusive: Tottenham defender enjoying life under ‘demanding’ Antonio Conte | Football News
Nearly three months into the job, Antonio Conte’s Tottenham revolution is taking shape.
The stats say so – Spurs are unbeaten in his nine league games in charge and they have outrun their opponents in all of those matches.
The players say so too.
“He’s demanding a lot,” Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez exclusively tells Sky Sports, “whether it be from training sessions to meetings, eating and sleeping.
“It’s linking with the performance work and then that allows you to be able to help the team to make more effort on the pitch.
“The performances are coming more easily and you feel healthy in the way that you are playing and training as well.
Sunday 23rd January 4:00pm
Kick off 4:30pm
“I’m not saying we didn’t do it before, but he’s come in with his character and become more strict with the rules.
“His name speaks for itself. He’s a worker and he just loves to be out on the pitch seeing people making the most from every training session, and then on the pitch we try to produce what we are doing on the training ground.
“As a team, we have been working in a better way and with the philosophy that the new manager has.
“We’ve been working in a way that makes us feel more comfortable on the pitch and in the end it’s happening more naturally, so we’re happy with that.”
Sanchez’s game is also flourishing under Conte. His tackles, interceptions, aerials won and duels won per 90 minutes are all the best they have been under any manager in his four-and-a-half-years at the club.
In fact, the centre-back – who has featured in eight of Conte’s nine league games in charge – has the most interceptions of any Spurs player since the Italian took over in November.
And it is all down to Conte’s tactics.
“I think it’s the way we play now,” the Colombian reveals. “We are taking risks, pressing high and when we go to press we push in front a lot.
“I think it’s one of my skills being in one-vs-ones and trying to intercept.
“All these things start with a good position, with the right mentality and thinking what is happening around you.
“It’s a good period for me and I just want to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Sanchez certainly enjoyed the astonishing late 3-2 win at Leicester on Wednesday night.
Two injury-time goals from Steven Bergwijn produced the latest comeback in Premier League history.
It also produced what Sanchez described as “euphoric celebrations” which saw team-mate Lucas Moura steal a Spurs fan’s bobble hat and then leap onto the shoulders of a steward not once, but twice.
“Everybody knows Lucas is a funny guy,” Sanchez jokes. “It is a very natural way for him to do these types of things. We know his behaviour and we know that he’s very honest.
“In the moment we didn’t realise what had happened, but when videos started to appear we just said, ‘What are you doing Lucas?!’, because he was doing crazy things!
“Then he said, ‘Yes I know, I just jumped over the guy and started to say COYS, COYS, COYS!’.
“It was funny and we enjoyed it.”
But there has been nothing to smile about for Sanchez and his team-mates when facing Chelsea this year.
Spurs are looking to avoid a fourth defeat against their London rivals this season on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, live on Sky Sports.
Two of those losses came this month as Chelsea won both legs of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
But, despite the second-leg defeat only coming last Wednesday, Sanchez is confident for the Super Sunday showdown – likely buoyed by this week’s incredible win at the King Power Stadium.
“I think we are better now and we are in a better position than the [Carabao Cup] semi-final,” the 25-year-old said.
“In the first leg they dominated the game, but we conceded goals that no doubt we could’ve done a lot better with.
“Then, when the team is as open as it was in the second leg, anything can happen so this game is going to be different.
“Of course after the semi-final it was quite hard because we felt the impact of going out of the competition. You’re in the game to play in finals and play for something.
“But the team have forgotten that moment, moved forward and are focused as to what’s coming up.
“We are being strong and have a good mentality, improving from the semi-final and showing as a team that we are there to fight for things.”
Tottenham’s other defeat against Chelsea this season came in September when the Blues cruised to a 3-0 win in north London.
That victory saw Thomas Tuchel’s side remain unbeaten to go top of the Premier League and were seemingly uncatchable for Spurs.
But four months later, and with Chelsea winless in their last four league matches, Tottenham have their rivals in sight.
A win for Spurs at Stamford Bridge on Sunday would see them move five points behind Chelsea with four games in hand.
“This match could be momentum for us,” Sanchez says. “They’re a very good team, but they’ve struggled a bit in the last few games and we’ve improved, even if they reached the [Carabao Cup] final.
“It’s going to be very important because if we take the result we’re looking for then we’ll be in a very good position.
“We’re already in a good position because the win at Leicester reduced the gap to the top four.
“We’re going to go for everything in this game because after it’s the international break for me and the South American players.
“It will be a very exciting game and we need to be in the right way emotionally for that type of game because you can’t have any gaps in your performance, attitude or mentality.”
Watch Chelsea vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 4pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm