Hungry and humble. That was how Mikel Arteta described Arsenal after October's north London derby victory at Emirates Stadium.

Tottenham have been less humble, more humbled, by their meetings with the Gunners this season, and Sunday's 2-0 home defeat made Spurs the victims of a first Gunners double in the north London derby since 2013-14.

With Arteta, Arsenal have a manager who understands his players, who draws the very best from them, and who might be just about halfway to a remarkable Premier League title.

In return, Arsenal's players get all the praise under the sun, but they are asked to stay focused, and duly they obey their Spanish leader.

When Arteta and captain Martin Odegaard demanded the players walk away from a post-match disturbance, away they went, to celebrate in front of their own supporters at the other end of the pitch.

This was Arsenal's first victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they lead the Premier League by eight points after 18 games, and they have an awful lot to celebrate before putting on their next game face.

A fan in a Tottenham section appeared to aim a kick at Arsenal goalkeeper Ramsdale seconds after the full-time whistle, climbing on pitchside railings to do so before scampering away pathetically, oblivious to the existence of television cameras.

That buffoon will doubtless get his comeuppance and Spurs themselves may face FA sanctions. It was a sorry and needless way for the game to end from a Tottenham perspective, and it had already been plenty grim enough.

Ramsdale played his own brilliant role in a fine Arsenal victory, while opposite number Hugo Lloris had a nightmare, with his own goal setting the visitors on their way.

Arsenal won 3-1 at home in October to consolidate their early hold on top spot, when a fumble from Lloris in the first game allowed Gabriel Jesus to put the hosts 2-1 ahead.

Arteta said after that game: "It is a really hungry and humble team, believe me. We know where we are. There is nothing that we have done yet, and there are still a lot of things to improve, and that's the direction that we are taking."

His message still stands. The title is a long way off, but Arsenal do not look like a team about to implode.

Here, Arsenal nudged their way ahead in the 14th minute, with Bukayo Saka's cross from the right taking an inconvenient nick off Ryan Sessegnon before former France captain Lloris juggled it over the line in shambolic fashion.

Son Heung-min probably should have put Spurs level three minutes later, but Ramsdale made himself big to block the South Korean's shot after Sessegnon's clever pass.

A stunning volley from Thomas Partey left the right post shaking in the 25th minute as Arsenal moved in for the kill, and Odegaard was lethal from 25 yards in the 36th minute, sending a scorching low shot inside the right post as Lloris – him again – failed to get across to the skidding ball.

Arsenal looked light years ahead of their hosts in terms of their use of the ball, slowly strangling all life out of Tottenham.

Grant Xhaka completed all 32 passes he played in the first half. Often simple, each time those passes kept Tottenham off the ball.

Curiously, Tottenham's 43.82 per cent share of the ball in the first half was their highest in a Premier League home game this season, but they were rarely hurting Arsenal.

Odegaard's goal took him to eight for the season, making the Norwegian midfielder the team's leading scorer. He is fulfilling the captain's brief to lead by example quite marvellously.

Ramsdale saved well from Harry Kane's header just before the break, with Kane one away from matching Jimmy Greaves' Tottenham goals record.

Kane will have to wait for that moment. He would have recognised Arsenal's superiority here, and it would have hurt him as much as anyone. Will Kane ever win a trophy at Spurs? It feels increasingly doubtful.

If there was any consolation in their bleak position at half-time, Tottenham may have been aware 16 of their last 17 Premier League goals had been scored in the second half of games, including their last night.

So what did they have left?

The early signs were bright. Dejan Kulusevski, coming in off the left, whipped a shot just over the bar, before Ramsdale saved brilliantly from Sessegnon as the former Fulham player looked sure to score.

But this was a tale of two keepers, and Ramsdale was rock solid.

For Arsenal, Xhaka thrashed a free-kick over, while Nketiah was twice denied by Lloris.

Then at the other end, Spurs substitute Richarlison fluffed a late chance as he allowed Ramsdale to make a comfortable claim.

Tottenham's eight-game home unbeaten streak against Arsenal in the league is over. Though they sit fifth in the table, they are five points behind fourth spot, and 14 points now adrift of Arsenal, having played one more game than Arteta's team.

London life is proving sweet for the men in red, with this a seventh win in seven capital city derbies this season, and a fourth away clean sheet out of four.

Arsenal had not won seven consecutive London derbies since the 2007-08 season. They have not been champions of England since 2003-04.

This is a season of change. A championship beckons. Such is their position of strength, we are getting close to the point where they would have to blow it. But this team are hungry and humble, guided by great leaders. Tottenham, and Antonio Conte, must feel pig sick.

Arsenal must show they can handle the pressure of being Premier League title "favourites", according to Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte.

Mikel Arteta's side head into Sunday's North London derby top of the table having won 14 of their 17 games.

But the Gunners dropped points in a goalless draw with Newcastle United last week, and with closest challengers Manchester City playing Manchester United on Saturday, Arsenal's lead could be cut to just two points by the time they step out onto the pitch at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

Conte is no stranger to title races, having lifted five top-flight crowns during his managerial career, including the 2016-17 Premier League while in charge of Chelsea.

He warned Arsenal that, despite their fantastic start, the real challenge starts now as they look to fend off City and claim their first league title since the 2003-04 'Invincibles' season.

"When you are at the top of the league the perception of your opponents change totally," Conte told reporters. "You are in that moment the best team in the league. For this reason, everybody wants to try to beat you.

"For sure, Arsenal has to face this situation of being favourites to win the league at this moment because they are top of the table. They have to show they are good to face this type of situation.

"In the last 10 years it was always the same, between City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Maybe Leicester [City]. Now Arsenal have a great opportunity.

"I think they are doing very well. Now they have to show they can stay there until the end of the season because I'm sure Manchester City doesn't agree and will feel the real possibility to win [the title] again.

"I think it is a battle between Arsenal and Manchester City."

Despite the huge animosity between the capital-city rivals, Spurs boss Conte still has respect for how Arsenal have turned things around after a tumultuous period in the late stages of and following Arsene Wenger's tenure.

Conte pointed out Arteta's focus on youth, as well as their recruitment in the transfer market, as reasons for the Gunners' success, saying: "They are working for many years in a project.

"They are doing very well. They sent away a lot of players, and bring in many players and they spend money to do it.

"It's normal when you work with the same young players and after four years they develop and become stronger.

"You have two paths you can follow.

"If you want to accelerate the process it is important to bring experienced players, winners, who know how to win, but you have another way, which is you need to have time and patience to develop young players."

Harry Kane earned a passionate tribute from Tottenham boss Antonio Conte ahead of the north London derby where the striker could break Jimmy Greaves' Spurs goals record.

Head coach Conte described the England captain as "not also a world-class striker but also a really good man", saying he had deserved the chance to overtake club legend Greaves and predicting he would "beat every record".

At the age of 29, Kane is already the highest-scoring player in north London derby history with 14 goals, and he has scored in all but one of his eight Premier League home games against Arsenal.

Kane moved to 265 goals for the club by scoring to earn Spurs an FA Cup win over Portsmouth last weekend, now just one short of Greaves' haul.

Ahead of what would be Kane's 413th appearance for Tottenham in Saturday's early Premier League game, Conte said there was more than meets the eye to his star man's contribution.

"You know very well, much better than me, the importance of Harry for us, for Tottenham, but also for the national team, because with the club and with the national team he has great numbers," Conte told a press conference.

"We are talking about a world-class striker and for sure he is going to beat every record.

"I think he deserves this, but I want to always underline also the other aspect, the human aspect about Harry, because we are not only talking about a world-class striker but also a really good man, a really good person, and for us he is an important point of reference."

Kane is two short of becoming the third player to reach 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney. Shearer's Premier League record of 260 goals will soon come into sight, providing Kane does not move abroad.

He is at that stage of his career where the records and the landmarks crop up constantly.

Greaves died in September 2021, and was already an established striker by the time he joined Tottenham as a 21-year-old, having risen to prominence with a flood of goals for Chelsea before having a short stint with Milan.

Kane will probably scorch way clear of Greaves' Spurs record, and Conte will take delight in him getting there.

"I am sure that he is going to beat this record and he is doing something incredible," Conte said. "At the same time we try to help him and if he scores, he helps us. This is important to have this exchange of favours."

Dejan Kulusevski will be available to return for Tottenham against North London rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Kulusevski was a key man for Spurs at the start of this season, but spent a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury prior to the World Cup.

The winger featured in Spurs' final three games before the tournament in Qatar, and with Sweden failing to qualify, the 22-year-old used the break to try and return to fitness.

But while he played the entirety of Spurs' first game back, a 2-2 draw at Brentford, Kulusevski was absent for the home defeat to Aston Villa with a muscle injury before also missing the victories over Crystal Palace and Portsmouth.

However, the former Juventus man is in contention for a clash with bitter rivals Arsenal, who hold a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

"The news for sure is the situation is going to improve, especially for Kulusevski," Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte told reporters on Friday. "He had training sessions in the last few days with us. He's going to be ready to play."

Conte will not be able to call upon Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur, both of whom picked up injuries while at the World Cup and have not featured for Spurs since.

"About Richy and Rodrigo, both situations are improving," Conte added. "I think in this moment Deki [Kulusevski] is much more ready to play. 

"For us, it is important to have patience ahead of this period and not to risk accelerating and lose them for a long period. We will see."

Lucas Moura has also endured a frustrating time due to injury and the club have decided not to renew his contract, which expires at the end of this season.

Conte said: "This is the decision of the club [not to renew]. 

"Honestly in my mind, when we planned this season Lucas was an important player for us. If you see the season, he's played one or two games."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has recently come under fire for his touchline antics after an angry confrontation with Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe during a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners feeling they should have had a late penalty.

But Conte, who clashed with former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel earlier in the season, feels Arteta is within his rights to be animated, explaining: "Arteta is another coach that shows his passion and transfers this into the pitch and his players.

"Our job now has become really difficult, so to see a coach sat on the bench is very difficult. For sure Arteta is a coach like me, we show our passion. Nothing is prepared in your mind.

"Sometimes you can celebrate in a strange way, but this passion is a pure passion. Arteta is another coach who likes to live the game."

Conte was more critical of Arsenal's conduct as a team, after receiving two FA charges in the space of six days for their behaviour against Newcastle and then Oxford United in the FA Cup, stating: "To intimidate and create a bad atmosphere is not fair. I hate the people who try to do it."

Antonio Conte has joined those paying tribute to Gianluca Vialli with a heartfelt social media post, describing his former Juventus team-mate as a "lion" and "an inspiration".

Vialli's passing at the age of 58 was confirmed on Friday, with the former striker having been re-diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021 after being given the all-clear the previous year.

Conte played with Vialli throughout the latter's four-year spell with Juventus between 1992 and 1996, helping the Bianconeri win the Champions League in Vialli's final season with the club, during which he was club captain.

Conte took to Instagram on Friday to share a recent image of the pair dining together, alongside the caption: "Having dinner together in London a few months ago as we had fun remembering all our adventures and battles on the field.

"Unfortunately, in these last few years you had to fight a great and terrible battle in life.

"I told you and wrote that you have always been an inspiration to me as my captain and for how you were proving to be strong, proud and brave, fighting like a lion against this disease.

"Always in my heart my friend. Goodbye Gianluca."

Vialli spent much of his playing career at Sampdoria before joining Juventus in 1992, winning one Scudetto, one Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup in addition to the Bianconeri's 1996 continental triumph.

He then left the club for Chelsea, where he eventually took over as manager, with Conte succeeding him as Juventus captain upon his departure.

Antonio Conte believes Tottenham "needed this type of performance" as they won for the first time in three matches by thumping Crystal Palace 4-0.

Spurs headed into Wednesday's match on the back of a 2-2 draw with Brentford and a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, with questions over Conte's future surfacing after he seemed to publicly question the direction of the club.

But a Harry Kane double and goals from Matt Doherty and Son Heung-min gave Spurs an emphatic victory at Selhurst Park, putting them within two points of the Premier League's top four.

Conte was relieved after the match to end their winless run and pick up three valuable points, telling reporters: "There are moments when you need this type of performance.

"It was important. Three points, [we] don't concede a goal. It wasn't easy. To play against Crystal Palace away is not easy. They beat us last season 3-0 [at Selhurst Park]. [It is] a really difficult pitch to play.

"I have many things to be happy about, especially for the young players. We are facing a difficult situation with injured players, especially. To see that you can count on them makes me happy. Also it's important because we can create competition."

Kane's brace moved him to 264 goals for Spurs, within two of tying Jimmy Greaves as the club's all-time record goalscorer.

Conte pointed out the striker's leadership as one of his best attributes, saying: "We are talking about a really world-class striker and he's going to beat that record with the goals.

"For us he's an important point of reference. Especially in the moments you know Harry is there ready to fight and solve the situation with goals and assists.

"We have to continue in this way and face every situation, negative and positive, with great character.

"I hope that soon we can have the whole squad available and that will be very important to face Arsenal and Manchester City with all our players and then we can see our true level."

Bryan Gil impressed against Palace in what was just his third Premier League appearance this season, having come under fire for a below-par display against Villa.

Conte has high hopes for the 21-year-old, stating: "It was important. We are talking about a player born to play football. He understands football so quickly, he's so clever.

"This league is so difficult. Quality, you have to be fast and have endurance. He has that and also you have to be strong physically. Gil since last season has improved on that aspect."

Antonio Conte acknowledges he will have to leave Tottenham if he can no longer accept the club's position as unlikely Premier League and Champions League contenders.

Spurs approach Wednesday's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace five points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United after suffering a dismal 2-0 defeat against Aston Villa on New Year's Day.

Tottenham have now won just one of their past four Premier League games either side of the World Cup break, and their poor run has added fuel to speculation regarding Conte's future.

The former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter boss has been linked with an exit on several occasions since taking the reins in November 2021.

While Conte is content at Tottenham for now, he says his commitment to the club can only last while he remains comfortable with their inability to compete for major honours.   

"My task is to help the club, to create a base, and then to try to improve," Conte said on Tuesday.

"If you say to me, 'the challenge for you is to win the Premier League, to win the Champions League'… This is not the task in this moment.

"I found the club in a difficult position for many reasons. Now my task – I understand it very well – is to help the club go in the right direction and to create a foundation.

"Then, if I am satisfied to continue to do this work and to one day see the result, I will continue to stay. If I'm not convinced 100 per cent, then I can leave my work.

"This is my big challenge here. If I want to stay here, then I have to accept this. Otherwise, if I don't want to accept this, then I have to go."

Spurs supporters vented their frustration towards chairman Daniel Levy during Sunday's loss to Villa, but Conte outlined the need for unity.

Asked about audible chants calling for Levy to leave at Tottenham's last game, Conte said: "Honestly, I did not hear this. 

"All I can say is it is important in this moment to have togetherness between fans, players and the club. We must stick together.

"I understand fans want to win trophies and be competitive, but to go to this step you need to create a base. I can't tell you anything different."

Antonio Conte stressed his commitment to Tottenham and suggested his comments following the defeat to Aston Villa may have been misunderstood.

The Italian has repeatedly stated his desire for more money to spend in the transfer market, claiming after Spurs' 2-0 home defeat to Villa on Sunday that he needs two players in the £50-70million bracket "every season" to compete in the Premier League.

After a bright start to the season, Spurs have wobbled of late, conceding at least twice in each of their last seven league games, and have conceded first in all of those games.

Ahead of Wednesday's trip to Crystal Palace, Conte dampened speculation he is considering his future at the club, reiterating his desire to build foundations.

"I am happy but I always say to you I am happy. I want to stay here," he told reporters. "I am enjoying my time in Tottenham, I am enjoying my work in Tottenham. I always say this and I am happy, but it doesn't mean I cannot tell you what we are doing. We are trying to create a base foundation.

"Maybe from the start of my experience here I am repeating always the same thing. It is difficult for me every day to repeat the same thing and for [the media] not to understand. It is difficult. I am happy to stay here because I am at a modern club, I have a good relationship with the players and I have a good relationship with the club.

"Sometimes I go home and think I have to study much more English because I am not good at transferring my thoughts to you."

After scoring 23 goals in 35 Premier League games last season to win the golden boot jointly with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min has managed just three in 15 league appearances this season, but Conte said he has no doubts about the South Korean's quality.

"Son for sure is struggling to find the best form and after the [facial] injury he had against Marseille [in the Champions League] he struggled a bit," he said. 

"Also the World Cup he didn't score but we are talking about a player that if we put him in discussion, we are in trouble because Sonny and [Harry] Kane are the two most important players, with [Hugo] Lloris. If we have doubts about them, we are in trouble."

Conte spoke further about the impact of the World Cup on his team, which led to a mid-season break as it took place in Qatar in November and December.

"Many, many people have already forgotten the difficulty of the World Cup," he added. "We said this season will be really, really difficult. The players come back really tired. For sure we have to analyse this aspect and find the best solution.

"For some players the World Cup could have had an impact. I have to find the best solution for the team. The players who worked here worked very well. Some are in a good physical conditions, others who should work they instead have to play.

"Don't forget what's happening in this season. We have already forgotten we are playing with the players that have just finished the World Cup. It takes from you [both] mental and physical energy. The coach, the manager, has to manage the situation."

Antonio Conte believes Tottenham need to delve into the transfer market if they are to repeat their "miracle" top-four finish of last season.

Spurs finished the 2021-22 campaign strongly to pip rivals Arsenal to Champions League qualification, but their attempts to finish in the top four again this season have faltered.

A 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday, as well as a draw with Brentford on Boxing Day, means Spurs have lost ground on Manchester United, with the Red Devils making it three straight wins with victory over Wolves on Saturday to move into fourth.

Conte's side have been unfortunate with injuries, with key players such as Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison both spending time on the sidelines.

Former Chelsea and Inter boss Conte feels Spurs could do with signing players to build the depth of their squad and make them competitive at the top end of the Premier League.

"I continue to repeat that we made a miracle [finishing fourth last season]," he told reporters after goals from Emiliano Buendia and Douglas Luiz condemned his side to defeat.

"Because we played only one competition with 12, 13 players and they didn't have injuries in the last 15 games and we played only the best players. Arsenal were only four points up and we finished 20 points less than Manchester City. We did a miracle and I knew the situation.

"I was very clear with the club and in the summer people spoke about Tottenham as title contenders. From my experience it was a bit crazy to read this but you have to accept this. If you have these injuries it becomes difficult.

"To become title contenders you need a solid foundation, 14, 15 strong quality players and the young players to develop and every season you can add two players, two players to invest £60million, £70m players to improve the level of your team."

Despite the Villa defeat, Conte was pleased with his side's attitude and he is confident his team will bounce back when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.

"About the performance, I'm not disappointed," Conte said. "From the start to the end I've seen the right commitment and desire and intensity.

"I was expecting this moment. Now we have to fight, strong, because the situation, we are there and in this league you can slip quickly.

"I'm not scared. I believe in my work and I believe in these players."

Antonio Conte acknowledged Tottenham's confidence was "killed" after again conceding the first goal in their 2-0 defeat by Aston Villa.

Spurs began 2023 with only a second loss in their last nine matches played on New Year's Day, as second-half goals from Emiliano Buendia and Douglas Luiz gave the visitors all three points at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Tottenham, who missed the chance to return to the top four, have now conceded the opening goal in each of their last seven Premier League matches, doing so for the first time since November 2010.

They have also now conceded at least twice in seven consecutive league matches for the first time since November 1988 (eight).

Conte was missing the likes of Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur for Sunday's visit of Villa, and the Italian feels the lacking of a creative spark was detrimental for his side.

"In the first half, we played with good intensity," he told BBC. "We didn't concede anything, and we found a team that defended too deep. Then, we conceded this goal and then the confidence dropped for my players.

"We have to know that our life is this. We have to fight every game for one point or for three points. This is the truth, especially when you are without two or three important players and have difficulties.

"We have different characteristics. We don't have many players who are really good at beating the man. We don't have many creative players in our team. For sure, today was really difficult to find space in the first half.

"I'm sure that if we don't concede the goal, we could win the game instead. The goal that we conceded killed us in confidence and in many situations for sure. You have to try and improve and develop these players to be even stronger.

"We have conceded the first goal, and we try to play to score goals. We understand very well that the league will be really difficult for us.

"We have to try to recover all the [injured] players, and then we have to know that in every game, we have to fight and show that we are strong."

Tottenham return to action on Wednesday with a trip to London rivals Crystal Palace.

Antonio Conte has told Tottenham to stop dishing out early gifts as World Cup winner Cristian Romero returns for the New Year's Day clash with Aston Villa.

Head coach Conte is fed up with Spurs having to chase games after conceding first, and he desperately wants their nine-game run of shipping the opening goal to be halted.

Tottenham have had some success in battling their way back into games since the trend began, but results have been a mixed bag, with only three wins achieved.

They have been left clinging to a top-four spot in the Premier League as Manchester United and Liverpool threaten to overhaul them.

The last time Tottenham scored first, they went on to beat Everton 2-0 on October 15, and Conte has challenged his players to show more defensive steel.

"For sure, it's strange, a strange situation," Conte said. "To concede the first goal for nine games in a row is very strange, but at the same time our reaction to try to level the result is good, and many times we were good to win the game.

"For sure, we have to be really focused from the start of the game, to go into the game quickly and also to pay more attention defensively, don't concede chances to our opponent to score first.

"We spoke with the players and maybe when you are going to have only games to play, many games in a row, you don't have the possibility to work on the tactical aspect and the defensive aspect, I think that you can lose something.

"But for sure it's our intention to try to avoid going 1-0 down and 2-0 down and to start the game in the best possible way."

Tottenham have won seven of their past eight Premier League games on New Year's Day, with the exception being a 1-0 loss at Southampton in 2020.

Their dismal current nine-game stretch of conceding first includes six Premier League games, two in the Champions League, and an EFL Cup loss to Nottingham Forest.

In the Premier League, Spurs have conceded at least twice in each of those six games concerned. It was November 1988 when they last conceded at least twice in more consecutive league matches, with the sequence then extending to eight games.

Conte will hope centre-back Romero brings an injection of buoyancy to the team, having returned from Argentina's celebrations this week, but he says there will be greater expectation than ever on the defender.

Conte said Romero is showing "great focus and great desire to come back and play with us"; however, Rodrigo Bentancur and Richarlison are unavailable due to injuries sustained at the World Cup.

Bentancur is suffering with a leg muscle injury and Conte said the midfielder could undergo an MRI check on Friday.

Speaking of Romero's situation, Conte said: "He has to know very well that now starts the more difficult period for him because the expectation is going to become high for him. For this reason he has to work much more and continue to work, especially don't lose the desire to improve himself."

Since joining Tottenham in August 2021, Tottenham have mustered an average of 1.6 points per Premier League game and a win average of 50 per cent in the 28 fixtures when Romero has started, but 2.1 points and a win record of 65.4 per cent in the 26 league games when the centre-back has not been in the side.

Antonio Conte had "zero doubt" about Harry Kane's mentality to move on from his World Cup heartbreak after netting in Tottenham's draw with Brentford.

The England captain was playing for the first time since his crucial penalty miss in the Three Lions' quarter-final defeat by France in Qatar.

Kane was subjected to abuse by a section of the Brentford fans, who chanted "you let your country down" during the 2-2 draw.

Nevertheless, the striker responded with a header that inspired Tottenham to earn a point from two goals down, taking his Premier League goal tally for the season to 13.

Kane has now scored the most Premier League goals on Boxing Day (10), and Conte believes his number 10 has already moved on.

"About Harry, I have zero doubt about his mentality," Conte told BBC Sport.

"He's facing a strange situation. He had a really good World Cup and also the team played to the quarter-final, then he missed a decisive penalty.

"If you are strong mentally, you move on, and Harry did this. I think the fans were scared because he is playing for Tottenham, not for what happened with England."

Kane's team-mate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who scored the Spurs equaliser, added: "To underestimate his strength is a big mistake.

"He is a machine. He has the quality to be number one in the world. The biggest mistake you can do in football is to doubt Harry Kane."

Antonio Conte knows Tottenham must tighten up at the back if they are to remain in the upper reaches of the Premier League table.

Harry Kane and Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg scored in the space of six second-half minutes to seal a 2-2 draw against Brentford on Monday after they had fallen behind to goals from Vitaly Janelt and Ivan Toney.

Janelt's goal meant Spurs have conceded the opening strike in each of their past six Premier League matches – their longest run of conceding first in the competition since April 2014 under Tim Sherwood (also six).

Indeed, they have conceded two or more goals in six consecutive Premier League games for the first time since May 2003.

The result left them in fourth, four points clear of Manchester United, and Conte accepted they need to improve in defence if they are to secure a Champions League qualification place.

"For the people that watched the game that don't watch Tottenham a lot it was another exciting game," he said.

"On one side I have to be happy because of the way we played in the second half – the energy, desire and intensity, and when you play like this you create problems.

"On the other side this is now six Premier League games in a row we have conceded the first goal. It's important to be stable for a team that wants to try to stay in a good position in the table.

"We have to find solutions to stop us conceding the first and second goals so many times.  

"This is the first time in my career to concede first in so many games in a row. They showed great character but we have to start in this way."

In the absence of Cristian Romero, who has been afforded extra time off following Argentina's World Cup win, Conte handed a first Premier League start of the season to defender Japhet Tanganga.

However, the 23-year-old was given a torrid time by Toney and was put out of his misery in the 67th minute when Conte replaced him with Davinson Sanchez.

Asked if he would dip into the transfer market in January to strengthen his defence, Conte responded: "With central defenders we are good, we have to continue to work.

"Now we have Tanganga back, who played his first game of the season. He needs a bit of time to get into the game. I'm pleased for him to play a game today. Romero comes back to training tomorrow.

"On one side I'm a bit disappointed, and in the other we're scoring a lot of goals and creating a lot."

Tottenham return to action on Monday when they host Aston Villa. 

The twelve Tottenham players who featured at the World Cup will not find rest easy to come by, to Antonio Conte's frustration.

Spurs return to action on Boxing Day against Brentford, just eight days after two of their players – France captain Hugo Lloris and Argentina defender Cristian Romero – played in the World Cup final.

Lloris will be on the bench against the Bees but Romero is unlikely to be in the squad. 

Spurs also have to contend with Richarlison's absence, with the Brazil forward having sustained a serious hamstring injury while playing in Qatar. Son Heung-min, Eric Dier and Harry Kane made it to the last 16 and quarter-finals of the competition with South Korea and England respectively, while Ivan Perisic went deep into the competition with Croatia.

"I am not really happy," Conte said. "On one hand, you are happy because for my club, Tottenham, to have 12 players at the World Cup it means that we are in the right way to try to be competitive and to try to win something.

"But it is normal that when you have so many players play a tournament like this, especially during the season, that now it is not easy because the physical condition is not at the top.

"It is impossible to give them a lot of rest and for sure with the players that didn't play the World Cup and we work for four weeks, now they are in a great physical condition.

"We worked a lot on the tactical aspect and physical aspect. Now they are at a level that is better than the players who finished the World Cup.

"For this reason I think I have to make the best decision for the game against Brentford.

"On one side I have players who I worked with for four weeks really well and on the other side, I have players who worked at the World Cup and are not at the top at the moment."

After taking on Brentford, Spurs host Aston Villa on New Year's Day before facing Crystal Palace on January 4.

Richarlison will spend three to four weeks on the sidelines as a result of the hamstring injury he sustained at the World Cup, Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has confirmed.

The Brazil forward scored three goals during an impressive campaign in Qatar, including a brilliant acrobatic volley in the Selecao's 2-0 group-stage win over Serbia.

However, Richarlison's World Cup ended in disappointing fashion as he was forced off early in Brazil's quarter-final defeat by Croatia on penalties.

The former Everton man underwent an MRI scan earlier this week, with Conte subsequently confirming he will sit out the festive period.

"I spoke with the medical department, they told me we need three to four weeks," the Tottenham boss said. "His injury was a serious injury.

"I followed all my players at the World Cup with my fingers crossed, because you know very well you can lose important players. It happened with Richarlison, who had a problem, [Rodrigo] Bentancur and Ben Davies."

Absent from their Boxing Day trip to Brentford, Richarlison is now a doubt for Spurs' Premier League fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester City.

Conte's side face their north London rivals on January 15, before taking on the reigning champions four days later.

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