By George Sessions, PA
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has suggested his squad is not strong enough to fight on multiple fronts.
Spurs suffered a humbling 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa on New Year’s Day and have slipped out of the top four following their inconsistent form.
After a strong start to the new campaign, Tottenham have now only won four times in all competitions since October 19th.
Attacking duo Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison were absent again for Sunday’s loss, having also missed a large chunk of football before the World Cup, while Son Heung-min’s struggles continued.
Conte guided Tottenham into the Champions League last season, but was left with limited options up front for this most recent defeat and admits he sensed this situation could be on the horizon.
“Last season we made a miracle, I continue to repeat,” he said.
“It happened why? Because we played only one competition, we played with 12 to 13 players and they didn’t have injuries in the last 15 games and we played with the best players every game because, I repeat, we played only the league.
“The situation is clear and I think you can see our situation from the start of the season.
“We had Bryan Gil, who played a good game but he’s a young player and you need to give young players time to become stronger physically. I’m pleased from what I’ve seen from him in the game.
“Then there is (Harry) Kane, Son, Richarlison and Kulusevski. When it happened that two of these (are injured), and this season it happened a few times with Richarlison and Kulusevski, you are in trouble.
“Also Sonny has to continue to improve and it becomes difficult this situation, because if you ask me about the central defenders, they played a good game, the two midfielders played a good game, the wing-backs played a good game and then we struggled a bit up front because we found a team defending really deep.
“If you have a solution on the bench to change the game, it’s easier because you change the cards during the game.”
Richarlison will miss Wednesday’s trip to Crystal Palace and is still weeks away from returning after a hamstring injury and Kulusevski’s minor muscle problem will be assessed before the Selhurst Park clash.
Yves Bissouma will be absent due to a one-match suspension after he received his fifth yellow card in the defeat by Villa.
World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez watched Villa’s victory from the bench, with boss Unai Emery revealing it was always his desire for Robin Olsen to continue in goal at Tottenham.
Emery said: “It was our plan. We prepared first Martinez to rest some days after the World Cup.
“The days we prepared before he went there and with Robin, we are working and trying to give him confidence.
“Our plan is to carry on with Martinez. He will train with us Monday and Tuesday and he will be closer to play with us, but after this match we can believe in Robin.”