Antonio Conte finds positives as Tottenham must learn to deal with ‘pressure’ of fourth after Brighton defeat

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 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte bemoaned his side’s defeat to Brighton, but believes having to “cope with the pressure” of competing in the top-four race is a good “examination” for his players.

Having seemed to seize control of the race for the final Champions League spot by beating Aston Villa after Arsenal’s defeat to Brighton last weekend, Conte’s men had chance to hammer home their advantage in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.

However, they produced a sub-par performance in comparison to their recent excellent form Leandro Trossard’s last-minute strike earned a 1-0 victory and all three points for the visitors.

Speaking after full-time, Conte insisted that experiencing 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 this, but we are in this race because we showed that we deserved to stay there. Now we have to continue. Once you are in a good position in the table you have to keep this position.

“It's a good opportunity for us also to cope with pressure, because when you arrive and then you know that [if you win] you stay is a fantastic target for you.

“[If] you’re winning the league and you are first, then you have to cope with the pressure, with the other results and I think this is a good opportunity for us to improve because I think this group of players need it, no? They needed this type of examinations for improvement.”

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 organisation under Graham Potter, the Italian was critical of his side’s failure to ensure they at least escaped from an off-day with a point.

“For sure, not a good result for us and a lesson that we can learn today that there are games that if you’re not able to win, you’re not to lose,” he added.

“It was very clear that today it wasn’t our day but I understand we wanted to try and get three points because it was very important for us to get three points playing before our rivals in the race for the Champions League.

“Brighton were very good to close every space but we helped our opponent in this job because we moved the ball slowly.

“Maybe a more fair final result was a draw but Brighton played a good game. They’re a really good team, well organised with a good manager and if you win against Arsenal and Tottenham away it means your team is a good team.”

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