Antonio Conte tells Tottenham to rediscover their 'nastiness'

Spurs travel to Fulham on Monday knowing defeat will see them drop down to sixth in the Premier League table

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has watched his side lose three of their past four Premier League games. EPA
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Antonio Conte has told his Tottenham players to show more resilience and rediscover their "nastiness" as they attempt to get their season back on track at Fulham on Monday.

Thursday's 4-2 defeat at Manchester City was Spurs' third defeat in their last four Premier League games that has seen them fall further behind the top four.

A win for Fulham would see them leapfrog their more illustrious London rivals and drop Spurs down into sixth place in the table.

Inconsistency has blighted Tottenham in recent months, their form in stark contrast to their strong finish to last season where Conte’s men won eight of their last 11 league fixtures, keeping six clean sheets along the way, to pip Arsenal to Champions League qualification.

“If I have to analyse what happened before, compared to last season, we implemented football knowledge, the tactical aspect and also the players after one year and a half, there is more connection between them,” Conte said.

“But we have to pay attention not only to improve one side, don’t lose what we created last season, the solidity, the desire to defend the result, the desire to win duels and don’t lose the nastiness.

“I repeat, in football you can be really good but if you are not strong on the pitch in every moment then you can risk losing. But I have a group of players who are intelligent, they know the situation much better than me.

“They know they have conceded a lot of goals, many goals for a team like Tottenham and they know we have to try to improve and there’s only one way to work, to stay together and be strong.

“I always use a word. A team that wants to win, to be stable has to be a resilient team.

“We have to show in every game, to be resilient and this is not simple but I think this is the key, especially in our season, in this type of situation when you have conceded 21 goals in the last 10 [league] games.”

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Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris has come under fire for several high-profile errors post-World Cup, with the Frenchman at fault for the first of Riyad Mahrez's goals in Thursday's defeat at the Etihad.

It follows hot on the heels of his own goal against Arsenal in the North London derby, but Conte attempted to take the heat off his squad by insisting they must continue to take risks.

He said: “There are periods where maybe there are individual mistakes, it’s normal that it can affect the mood of the team and this type of situation can cost goals, but this is part of football.

“It happened always in football that there is the individual mistake. For sure we have to be strong when there is an individual mistake, don’t lose the confidence.

“I trust in all my players. I have confidence in all my players. They have to be confident in themselves. The mistake is part of football. I accept it.

“I don’t like when I have a player who doesn’t try to take a risk, only to protect themselves. I always say to my players you have to take the responsibility.”

Updated: January 23, 2023, 9:27 AM