ANTONIO CONTE warned Tottenham are defending like a team scrapping in the relegation zone right now.
Spurs have shipped 21 goals in their last ten league games – including four in Thursday’s 4-2 defeat at Manchester City – and have conceded two or more in nine of those fixtures.
GettySpurs’ bumpy form has put their hopes of a top four place in peril[/caption]
It is proving to be their Achilles heel which is overshadowing the progress Conte feels the team is making at the other end of the pitch when taking on the bigger opponents.
The Italian said: “The positive situation is I think we have improved a lot to face important opponents like Manchester City.
“On one side, we are doing progress. On the other, compared to last season, we are doing less.
“To concede 21 goals in the last ten games, this is usually for a team that fights in the relegation zone.
“To turn the season, we have to improve when conceding a goal easily. To concede at the moment at least two goals every game, we have to turn this into a positive.”
Spurs have kept just five clean sheets in the league compared to 13 last season after Conte had arrived.
Their form in the last five games is worse than relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest and Wolves.
Asked how he can solve his defensive problems, Conte replied: “I think we have to improve the spirit, the collaboration, the will, the desire, the feeling to suffer.
“Maybe we have forgotten to suffer and to understand that if we want to win the game then maybe you have to stay there, to suffer like last season.
“You have to defend the result, the will and desire not to concede a goal.”
The poor run in the last ten fixtures has left Spurs five points off the Champions League spots, having played a game more than fourth-placed Newcastle.
While defeat to Fulham on Monday would see the in-form Cottagers leapfrog them in the table.
Conte feels it will take another “miracle” to finish in the top four – which was how he described last season’s achievement of doing exactly that.
But he added: “We want to be realistic but at the same time in myself I dream.
“I dream, I want to play Champions League. There are 18 games in the Premier League.”
“There is another competition in the FA Cup and for sure in our mind we need to dream of something important.”