Dejan Kulusevski at a loss to explain stark Tottenham streak that is crushing top-four hopes

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Dejan Kulusevski has admitted he has “no idea” why Tottenham keep conceding first, but says the players must find a solution to save their season.

For the 11th time in 13 matches, Spurs fell behind in Sunday’s 2-0 derby defeat to Arsenal after another meek opening 45 minutes, before producing their now-customary rally in the second half.

In the five matches since the Premier League restart, Spurs have drawn with Brentford and lost to Aston Villa and Arsenal when conceding first, but beaten Crystal Palace and Portsmouth after opening the scoring.

It was a similar story before the World Cup, with Antonio Conte's side producing stirring comebacks against Marseille, Bournemouth and Leeds, but losing after falling behind against Nottingham Forest, Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester United.

A calamitous Hugo Lloris own goal and Martin Odegaard's fine strike earned Arsenal a first away win in a north London derby since 2014 and moved Mikel Arteta's side eight points clear at the top of the table, heaping the pressure on Conte.

“We started good and then they scored a lucky goal and after that we didn't play good enough - we couldn't touch them,” Kulusevski told Standard Sport. “They're a really good team. They’re not first in the league because of luck. So it was hard for us to keep the ball, to press them.

“But then second half was much better. We couldn't score, that's the bad thing, but we created a lot of chances. Bad result. Bad first half. But we have to move on. We cannot go home and be sad. We have another game soon and we just have to recover good.

“I have no idea [why we keep conceding first], honestly. What I see is that when we score first we win the games and when we don't, it's much less [likely]. It's very hard for everybody but if we don't start the games better we're not going to win. So we have to stop doing that.

“We're trying. Nobody wants to concede first but everyone is trying. To find a solution is a little bit harder. Asking questions is very easy. Of course, the coach is on us.”

The defeat left Spurs five points adrift of the top four and facing another huge test on Thursday night when they visit stuttering champions Manchester City.

Spurs' 3-2 win at the Etihad in February last year kickstarted their fine run to fourth place and Kulusevski is hoping for a similar turning point this week.

“Of course, we have good memories from playing there,” said the Swede. “I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a very difficult game but we have to do everything right. Like I said, you cannot be sad. You have to move on. Never too high, never too low.

“We're going to go there and play an important game against an important team. We have to be ready and do what we've got to do. We have to prepare, we have to show our character and we're going to be ready. We always have belief we can get in the top four.”

Conte backed Lloris after the second home league game in a row in which the veteran goalkeeper has cost his side the opening goal.

“Honestly I consider Hugo one of the best keepers in the world and it can happen sometimes you can make a mistake,” Conte said. “For sure when there is the mistake of the keeper it is more visible. Hugo for us is a one of the players who is really important for the dressing room, for his personality.”