The situation is clear – Antonio Conte points to a weak squad as Spurs struggle

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has suggested his squad is not strong enough to fight on multiple fronts.

Spurs suffered a humiliating 2–0 home defeat to Aston Villa on New Year’s Day and slipped out of the top four after inconsistent form.

After a strong start to the new campaign, Tottenham have won just four times in all competitions since October 19.

The attacking duo of Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison were again absent from Sunday’s defeat as they also missed a large chunk of pre-World Cup football while Son Heung-min’s struggles continued.

Conte led Tottenham to the Champions League last season but had limited options before the latest defeat and admits he sensed that might be on the horizon.

“Last season we performed a miracle, I still say,” he said.

“It happened, why? Because we only played in one tournament, we played 12-13 players who were injury free in the last 15 games and we played with the best players in every game because, I repeat, we only played in the league.

“The situation is clear and I think you can see our situation from the beginning of the season.

“We had Bryan Gil who played a good game but he is a young player and you have to give young players time to get physically stronger. I’m happy with what I’ve seen in his game.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen saves Tottenham's Bryan Gil

Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen saves a shot from Tottenham’s Bryan Gil (John Walton/PA)

“Then there’s (Harry) Kane, Son, Richarlison and Kulusevski. When it happens that two of them (they are injured), and this has happened a few times this season with Richarlison and Kulusevski, you’re in trouble.

“Also Sonny has to keep improving and this situation becomes difficult because if you ask me about the centre-backs, they played a good game, the two midfielders played a good game, the full-backs played a good game and then we had some problems up front because we found a team defending really deeply.

“If you have a solution on the bench to change the game, it’s easier because you change cards as you play.”

Richarlison will miss Wednesday’s trip to Crystal Palace and is still weeks away from returning from a hamstring injury, while Kulusevski’s minor muscle issues will be assessed ahead of the Selhurst Park clash.

Yves Bissouma will be absent on a one-match suspension after receiving a fifth yellow card in a defeat to Villa.

World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez watched Villa’s win from the bench while boss Unai Emery revealed he always wished Robin Olsen would continue in goal for Tottenham.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez warms up on the pitch (John Walton/PA)

Emery said: “That was our plan. We prepared the first Martinez to rest a few days after the World Cup.

“The days we prepared before he went there, we work with Robin and try to give him confidence.

“Our plan is to continue working with Martinez. He will train with us on Monday and Tuesday and will be closer to playing with us, but after this game we can believe in Robin.

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