BRIGHTON: Tottenham Hotspur’s over-stretched squad unravelled in a 4-2 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday with manager Ange Postecoglou admitting his team lacked their usual energy.
The Londoners, who have maintained their top-four push despite a host of key players missing through injury and suspension, went 4-0 down on the south coast before a late rally meant they salvaged some pride.
Spurs have been without England playmaker James Maddison and Dutch central defender Micky van de Ven since a 4-1 home defeat by Chelsea at the start of November while Argentine centre back Cristian Romero is also facing a lengthy lay-off.
Midfielder Yves Bissouma was suspended for the trip to Brighton while Dejan Kulusevski will miss Sunday’s home game against Bournemouth after picking up a yellow card on Thursday.
“I know I say I don’t make excuses but that doesn’t dismiss the enormous efforts of the players, not just today but through this whole period,” Postecoglou, whose side are fifth in the Premier League with 36 points from 19 games, told reporters.
“They give everything they have, even today. Everything they had in them physically they gave to this game even though sometimes we weren’t as sharp as we have been.
“It’s difficult. It’s been difficult this whole run. We’ve been stretched for a very long time and we’ve just tried to play through it. That’s what we’ve done and we’re only in the position we are because of the enormous efforts of the players to do jobs that normally is not in their brief.”
Late goals by substitute Alejo Veliz and Ben Davies was proof of Tottenham’s fighting spirit but with players heading off to the African Cup of Nations and Asian Cup in January, Postecoglou knows he needs to bolster his squad.
“We’ve got 10 players injured. The way we play, the players give everything every game. They’re a credit to us,” he said.
“It’s very demanding the way we play physically and today we kind of looked like a team that wasn’t at its sharpest,” the Australian added. “Ultimately what I do know is the players gave everything they have and that’s all I can ask for.”
Captain Son Heung-min said the performance was nowhere near the levels Tottenham need to be at.
“Every team is strong in the Premier League and if we’re not playing like the last 15 minutes in every game we’re going to struggle and this has to be a big wake-up call,” he said.