Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has said his side’s defensive record in recent weeks resembles that of a side battling relegation, calling on players to show ‘will and desire’ ahead of the Champions League game. Monday’s Premier League at Fulham.
Spurs blew a two-goal lead in their 4-2 league loss to Manchester City on Thursday.
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Conte’s side are fifth in the table with 33 points after 20 games, five points outside the top four after playing one game more, and have already conceded 31 league goals this season, nine less than on the entire 2021-22 campaign. .
“To concede 21 goals in the last 10 games is usually a team struggling in the relegation zone,” Conte told a press conference on Friday.
“I think we have to improve the spirit, the collaboration, the will, the desire, the feeling of suffering, because maybe we forgot to suffer… We have to defend the result, [show] the will and the desire not to concede a goal.
“Last season, I don’t remember the number of clean sheets with [goalkeeper] Hugo [Lloris] but… in every game this season we concede at least two goals but that’s our midfield, our average, like a team fighting in the relegation zone.”
Despite Tottenham’s defensive problems in back-to-back league defeats to City and Arsenal, Conte added he could still see clear signs of progress in other areas.
“I think we are making progress, in my opinion, on some aspects,” he said. “In other aspects, I think we need to come back like last season and be a little more solid, a little more focused, a little more mean.
“We have improved in many ways because this season too we are scoring many goals, we are creating many chances, our organization to press was much better than last season.”
Spurs have scored 39 league goals this season compared to 69 all of last season.
“The progress you see if you start seeing players playing with personality, starting the game with the will and the desire to have the ball, creating chances, going strong, pressing and winning duels. In this situation, you can see for the coach the progress,” added Conte.
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