Antonio Conte has called on his Tottenham players to learn how to collectively “suffer” if they are to get their season back on track away at Fulham on Monday.
Spurs let a two-goal half-time lead slip at Manchester City on Thursday, with that 4-2 collapse making it three defeats in their past four Premier League games.
Tottenham are now playing catch up in their bid to finish in the top four once again this season ahead of facing high-flying London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage.
“I think that maybe we have to improve the spirit, the collaboration, the will and the desire to suffer,” Conte said. “Maybe we have forgotten to suffer and to understand that.
“If we want to win the game, sometimes you have to stay there to suffer and defend the result, with the will and desire to not concede a goal.”
Fulham fell to a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United last time out, snapping a run of four successive league wins – their best such run in the top flight since April 1966.
Marco Silva’s side are just two points adrift of Tottenham, but they have lost their past six home league matches against them in a run stretching back to 2012.
Despite their close proximity to the European spots, Silva insists avoiding relegation in Fulham’s first season back in the division remains the priority.
“Our ambition is to remain in the Premier League. It’s so important for this football club to be in the Premier League consistently,” he said. “It’s our goal and we are not going to change. Everyone can have their opinion and talk about this situation, but for me our ambition is clear.
“You can see now that we are in the January market how some clubs are strengthening their squads, how they can keep buying players as well, and we have to be realistic.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Fulham – Aleksandar Mitrovic
Mitrovic fluffed his lines from the penalty spot against Newcastle last week and will be eager to put that behind him when Tottenham make the trip to west London. The 28-year-old is the fourth-top scorer in the league this season and has scored in all four of his London derbies in 2022-23, including in the reverse fixture with Spurs.
Tottenham – Dejan Kulusevski
Harry Kane undoubtedly remains Tottenham’s key man, but Kulusevski is not far behind following another impressive display against City in midweek. The Sweden international has two goals in the Premier League this season to go with his five assists – a tally that only three other players can better in the division.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Fulham have lost 12 of their last 14 Premier League games against Tottenham Hotspur (W1 D1), with their only win in that sequence a 1-0 away win in March 2013.
– The Cottager have won three of their six Premier League London derby matches this season (L3) – they’ have never won four such games in a single top-flight season before.
– Tottenham have won 10 of their past 14 Premier League games on a Monday (D3 L1), with their only defeat in that run coming at home to Man City in October 2018.
– Fulham have scored 11 headed goals in the Premier League this season, only netting more in a single campaign in 2010-11 (15).
– Spurs have won just one of their past 11 away London derbies in the Premier League (D4 L6), though it was their last one against Crystal Palace (4-0). They have not won consecutive such games since a run of four between February and November 2018.