Antonio Conte expects Tottenham fans to play a key role in north London derby

Antonio Conte expects Tottenham fans to create another warm atmosphere for their visit to rivals Arsenal.

Sunday’s north London derby could mark a turning point, with Harry Kane one goal behind Spurs record holder Jimmy Greaves, who took the last of his 266 hits in 1970.

The fixture, meanwhile, will be the 100th competitive men’s game played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since it opened in 2019.

One of the best events at the venue took place in May when the hosts, backed by a partisan crowd, led Arsenal to a memorable 3-0 win.

At various points this season the team has been booed by home fans, but Conte has no doubts about how the Gunners will fare this weekend.

“My expectation is always the same. Our fans have never let us down because they have shown that they are there for us at every moment of the season, both positive and negative,” he said.

“Of course we know very well the importance of this match for the fans, for the rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal.

“I remember a great atmosphere last season, a great atmosphere and I’m sure we will find the same atmosphere in this game.”

Kane has scored 17 goals in all competitions for Tottenham this term after clearing a win against Portsmouth in the FA Cup last week.

He’s gearing up to beat Greaves’ Spurs tally this month and will then turn his attention to Alan Shearer’s 260 goals and 63 conceding goals in the Premier League.

Conte added: “You know better than me how much Harry means to us, to Tottenham and also to the national team because he has very good numbers for the club and the national team.

“We’re talking about a world-class forward and he’s definitely going to break any record. I think he deserves it, but I always want to highlight the other side of Harry, the human side.

“We’re not just talking about a world-class forward, we’re talking about a really good guy, a really good person, and he’s an important reference point for us.

I am sure he will break this (Tottenham) record and he is doing something amazing. At the same time we try to help him and if he scores he helps us. It is important to have this exchange of favors.”

The 29-year-old academy graduate Kane is one of the most experienced players on the Tottenham squad.

Conte repeatedly called for patience during his 14-month tenure in helping the Spurs become title contenders, and used Arsenal’s progress under Mikel Arteta over the past three years as an example of what can be accomplished over time.

“We definitely have eight or nine young players on our roster who have a bright future, but we need to keep working with (Bryan) Gil, Pape Sarr, Skippy (Oliver Skipp), (Ryan) Sessegnon. (Djed) Spence, (Japhet) Tanganga, Emerson ( Royal) 24 years old.

“We’re talking about a lot of young players. Arsenal are doing a good job but remember, I remember the problems they had at the beginning of last season. They got a lot of criticism.

“When I talk about time and patience, it’s not an excuse, it’s a situation I know. One way is to wait for development to make these young players stronger players.”

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