Ottenham boss Antonio Conte has lamented his side’s loss to Brighton but believes having to ‘face the pressure’ of competition in the top four is a good ‘examination’ for his players.
After appearing to take control of the race for the final Champions League spot by beating Aston Villa following Arsenal’s loss to Brighton last weekend, Conte’s men had the chance to score their advantage in the kick-off dispatch Saturday at noon.
However, they produced a subpar performance compared to their recent excellent form. Leandro Trossard’s last-minute strike secured a 1-0 victory and all three points for the visitors.
Speaking after full-time, Conte insisted that taking on the challenge of having to either follow Arsenal’s results or set the pace themselves will stand them in good stead going forward.
“We have to know that we are in this race for the Champions League,” he said. “I think not many people thought that, but we are in this race because we have shown that we deserve to stay there. Now we have to keep going. Once you are in a good position in the table, you have to maintain this position.
“It’s a good opportunity for us too to cope with the pressure, because when you arrive and then you know that [if you win] your stay is a fantastic target for you.
“[If] you win the championship and you are first, then you have to deal with the pressure, with the other results and I think it’s a good opportunity for us to improve because I think this group of players needs it, no ? They needed these kinds of exams to improve.
It was a particularly frustrating afternoon for Spurs’ in-form forward line of Dejan Kulusevski, Heung-min Son and Harry Kane, with the hosts failing to muster a single shot on target.
While Conte praised the visitors for their organization under Graham Potter, the Italian criticized his side’s failure to ensure they escaped at least a matchday with a point.
“Of course it’s not a good result for us and a lesson we can learn today that there are games that if you’re not able to win you mustn’t lose,” he added.
“It was very clear that today was not our day but I understand that we wanted to try to get three points because it was very important for us to get three points by playing ahead of our rivals in the race to the Champions League.
“Brighton were very good at closing every space but we helped our opponent in that job because we moved the ball slowly.
“Maybe a fairer end result was a draw, but Brighton played a good game. They’re a very good team, well organized with a good manager and if you win against Arsenal and Tottenham away , it means your team is a good team.