Long three months ahead for Spurs, says Mourinho

LONDON – A 2-1 defeat by Chelsea in slammed the brakes on Tottenham Hotspur’s recent revival and left manager Jose Mourinho predicting a "tough three months" ahead on Saturday.

With strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min unavailable with long-term injuries, Tottenham were lightweight against their London rivals as the chance to move above them into fourth spot in the Premier League passed them by.

Mourinho said he had no complaints with the result, pointing out that his players were being asked to perform ‘miracles’.

"I’m so proud of the boys they fought for the last seconds for a result," Mourinho, whose side had closed to within a point of Chelsea after three consecutive league wins but are now four behind, told reporters at Stamford Bridge.

"I cannot ask more from them, especially Lucas (Moura), (Giovani) Lo Celso, (Steven) Bergwijn these boys that are playing every minute and trying to do miracles in positions that are not their positions. I cannot complain."

Tottenham’s lack of striking options are threatening to wreck their top-four ambitions, although Mourinho’s team selection was still puzzling with forward Dele Alli left on the bench and Erik Lamela playing only for 20 minutes.

"I am going to be repetitive," he said "I would love to be at July 1. I would love to be in pre-season, working with Harry Kane, (Moussa) Sissoko and Sonny. That’s not possible.

"We have three long months to go in three competitions where we are still (in). It’s going to be three long months."

Asked why Alli had not started, Mourinho said: "We have strange game-plans but we need to have them because there’s not another way. For example, while Lamela played so well but only for 20 minutes, you must think I’m an idiot.

"That guy (Lamela) who played so well for 20 minutes, in the warm-up, he was in communication with me because he was not sure he could go (on)."

To highlight Tottenham’s attacking problems, Chelsea’s opening goal was scored by French international Olivier Giroud, a player who has hardly featured in the league this season and who was linked to a move to Spurs in January.

He was later substituted by Tammy Abraham, who has 13 league strikes to his name this season, while Willian, scorer of both goals in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Tottenham in December was also introduced off the bench.

It was not lost on Mourinho.

"Look at Chelsea, played striker of the world champions (Giroud). On the bench was the second striker of England after Harry Kane (Abraham), in the stands the second striker of the Belgium national team (Michy Batshuayi)," he said.

"We have zero strikers the pitch, zero on bench or zero in stands. We have two in the hospital. That’s the situation, it’s an incredible negative situation."

As well as fighting to finish in the top four of the Premier League, Tottenham must also try and overturn a first-leg deficit in the Champions League against RB Leipzig and face Norwich City in the FA Cup fifth round.

Reuters

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