A 2-1 defeat by Chelsea on Saturday slammed the brakes on Tottenham Hotspur’s recent revival and left manager Jose Mourinho predicting a “tough three months” ahead.
With strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min unavailable as a result of long term injuries, Tottenham were lightweight against their London rivals.
It ultimately meant the chance to move above them into fourth spot in the 2019/2020 English Premier League (EPL) passed them by.
Mourinho said he had no complaints with the result, pointing out that his players were being asked to perform `miracles’.
Tottenham had closed to within a point of Chelsea after three consecutive league wins, but they are now four points behind.
“I am so proud of the boys. They fought till the last seconds for a result.
“I cannot ask more from them, especially Lucas (Moura), (Giovani) Lo Celso and (Steven) Bergwijn.
“These boys who are playing every minute and trying to do miracles in positions that are not their positions. I cannot complain,” Mourinho told reporters at Stamford Bridge.
Tottenham’s lack of striking options are threatening to wreck their top-four ambitions, although Mourinho’s team selection was still puzzling.
Dele Alli was left on the bench while Erik Lamela played only for 20 minutes.
“I am going to be repetitive. I will love to be at July 1. I will love to be in pre-season, working with Harry Kane, (Moussa) Sissoko and Sonny. That’s not possible (for now).
“We have three long months to go in three competitions where we are still (in). It’s going to be three long months,” Mourinho said.
Asked why Alli had not started, the manager 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 am 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.
He is a player who has hardly featured in the league this season and who was linked to a move to Spurs in January.
The former Arsenal player was later substituted by Tammy Abraham, who has 13 league strikes to his name this season.
Willian, scorer of both goals in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Tottenham in December was also introduced off the bench.
“Look at Chelsea, they played a striker of the world champions (Giroud). On the bench was the second striker of England after Harry Kane (Abraham), (and they had) in the stands the second striker of the Belgium national team (Michy Batshuayi).
“We have zero strikers on 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,” he said.
Apart from fighting to finish in the top four of the EPL, Tottenham must also try and overturn a first leg deficit in the UEFA Champions League against RB Leipzig.
They equally face Norwich City in the FA Cup fifth round.