Cesc Fabregas exclusive: the Arsenal legend shares secrets on how to beat Antonio Conte’s Spurs

The former Arsenal skipper - who played under Antonio Conte at Chelsea - gives his insight into how the Gunners can beat the Italian’s well-drilled Spurs’ side.

“It’s all about confidence,” says Cesc Fabregas on Arsenal’s trip to Tottenham this Thursday for the north London derby.

In a game which will define the race for the top four in this turbulent Premier League season, the former Gunners captain feels the result will boil down to mindset on the day.

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“We can talk about quality, attitude, mentality - all obviously super important - but confidence in what the coach is telling you, in what you’re working on at the training ground - this facilitates a lot,” he tells LondonWorld.

After five long years away, the Gunners can secure a spot amongst Europe’s elite next season with a win against their bitter rivals - a feat which Fabregas believes would signify somewhat of an overachievement.

Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas celebrates after scoring against Tottenham in the north London derby. Credit: CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images

“If they can get Champions League football it would be a fantastic achievement,” he says.

“They’ll be able to attract better players, they’ll receive a lot of money which is important.”

Fabregas likens this Arsenal team to some of those that he played in himself: full of exciting young talent but lacking the experience to turn their moments of brilliance into something more consistent.

That said, he feels Arteta’s side are “on the right path” to achieving success.

“Every team needs a process to become a top side,” the World Cup winner says.

“We [my old Arsenal teams] had the same problem.

“We were challenging for the title until February, March most of the time, and then for whatever reason: injuries, lack of experience, sometimes not knowing how to manage games and being too nice, too offensive at times…these things happen.

“What I like about this team is that if they keep going the way they are and they stay together for a few more years, this can be a great generation for Arsenal.”

Fabregas has high praise for Conte: “If I was a coach, I could get by managing with all that he showed me in the two years I worked with him.” Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Not only does Fabregas know exactly what it means to play against Tottenham - with a total of 23 career appearances against them - he is also very familiar with the man in their dugout, Antonio Conte.

He says: “I said as soon as he joined Tottenham, ‘unfortunately, Spurs have a really good manager on their hands.’”

Having spent two seasons playing under the Italian at Chelsea, Fabregas knows just how tough a task Arsenal will face this week - however the ex-Barcelona man offers some tactical insight in how a Conte team can be punished.

“I’m sure Mikel analyses the opponent very well, but Arsenal will need a lot of intensity if they’re going to win this game,” he tells LondonWorld.

“I know exactly how Antonio works, I know this methodology very well.

“If I was a coach, I could get by managing with all that he showed me in the two years I worked with him. Spurs are very well structured, they use the wing backs very high.

“They are intense and, a little bit like Arsenal, they try to build up from the back to draw the opponent out.

“Tottenham have world class players up front as well in Son, Kane and Kulusevski.

“Last weekend against Liverpool they gave them a game. If you’re going to beat a Conte team you’ll need to be very well structured.”

Cesc Fabregas celebrates scoring for Arsenal. Credit: AY/AFP via Getty Images

On how he expects Arsenal to approach the fixture, he predicts: “We’ve seen many teams match his [Conte’s] system and go one-on-one across the whole pitch to see who is better. Teams used to do that against us at Chelsea. I don’t think Arteta will do that.

“I think he will go his way, he’ll play the 4-2-3-1, try to apply pressure from the front and try to have the ball. You need to switch sides constantly against Conte.

“If you try to play a lot in the middle, where he puts a lot of bodies and are very vertical, it will be tough.

“But if you keep switching sides, there will be moments where they’re not covered positionally and from there you can find spaces. It’s a good challenge for Mikel, for sure.”

If Arsenal are to get anything from the game, they will undoubtedly need their abundance of young talent to step up to the plate. These players in particular evoke a certain nostalgia in Fabregas.

“There are three or four [players] that I really like. I feel sometimes like I’m watching myself when I first started out”, he reflects.

“You have the likes of Saka, Martinelli, Odegaard, Smith Rowe…it’s great to see.

“Even Nketiah recently who has been scoring goals. Their recent performances will give them confidence.

“Every young player needs some time to adapt to the real highest level of football and Arsenal are giving opportunities to them.

“This will give a lot of value to the squad not only economically, but also football wise. Hopefully in a few years we can see the results of it.”

Cesc Fabregas has high praise for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

It is not only Arsenal’s young on-field talent that get Fabregas’ seal of approval.

His fellow Spaniard Mikel Arteta, he says, is the “typical modern coach”, who is gradually repaying the faith his club have shown in him.

“I’m glad that he’s had the time to express himself,” Fabregas says.

“He arrived in a delicate moment and it would’ve been really easy in certain moments to just cast him aside and try something else, go for someone more experienced.

“I’m happy they’ve given him the time and I know Edu has been key on that.

“He knows himself, being the top player that he was, that for certain projects you need time, you need to find the right players, find a system that’s suitable for the players you have."

Tactically, he is impressed by Arteta’s approach.

“There’s lot of tactical analysis, a ‘gegenpressing’ style, a lot of new methodology both physically and tactically,” Fabregas says.

“I feel that he doesn’t get too attached to certain players. The team comes first and whoever is performing better at the time will play.

“Before, the best players always played. If they were half injured, they’d rush them back. Now? No.

“These days whoever is better physically, in better form, will play. He’s been able to change formations, try players in different positions, and he’s found his team. Now you can see the results. Well done to him.”