Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino cannot remember a more frustrating period in his managerial career but insists there is no need to panic.
Spurs’ 1-1 draw against Leicester on Saturday means they have now gone five games without a victory and four without scoring a goal from open play.
Draws against West Brom, Bournemouth and Bayer Leverkusen, as well as a defeat to Liverpool in the EFL Cup, have deflated the mood at White Hart Lane since their brilliant win against Manchester City at the start of October.
Key absentees have played a part. Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld – Tottenham’s two most important players last season – are still recovering from ankle and leg injuries respectively, while Moussa Sissoko is out suspended and Erik Lamela has been ill.
Kane and Alderweireld could return either against Leverkusen in the Champions League on Wednesday or, more likely, in the north London derby at Arsenal next weekend.
Asked if he had endured a spell in management as frustrating as this, Pochettino said: “I don’t remember having one.
“It is hard because the players come, maybe not injured, but with many problems and maybe play two games and with the small problems we have with Toby Alderweireld, Harry Kane, Sissoko’s suspension and Erik Lamela on Saturday.
“Yes it is true it is a tough period when you play, play, play that you need all the squad available, but you need to adapt to the competition and we are happy.
“It is true we are disappointed with the last few results but in the same way we need to take positives in and keep working.”
Still in touch
Spurs remain unbeaten in the league and in touch at the top of the table, fourth and three points off the top, but they have a tough month ahead.
The crunch games against Leverkusen and Arsenal come before two more grudge matches in the capital against West Ham and Chelsea, either side of a trip to Monaco in the Champions League.
“I never panic,” Pochettino said. “In football, no. When I go to the streets sometimes I am scared to walk on the street because you never know there are crazy people there, but in football never.
“In a bad period we are also very positive because we are unbeaten. Maybe we don’t win but we don’t lose and that is important.
“But we have ahead two very important games Leverkusen will be key for us and Arsenal too because it is the derby.”
Kane’s return cannot come soon enough for Spurs, who have struggled for attacking fluency and penetration without their first-choice striker.
Vincent Janssen scored his first Premier League goal from the penalty spot against Leicester but the Dutchman is yet to register from open play for his new club and would appear to need more time to settle.
Pochettino was also keen to stress his midfield’s contribution. In the five league games since Kane’s injury, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min have each scored twice but the likes of Christian Eriksen, Lamela, Sissoko and Mousa Dembele have all failed to find the net.
“Dele, Christian, all the players in the second line, Mousa. need to be more determined to score,” the Argentinian said.
“We cannot only have all the pressure on our striker. Our second line need to score more and maybe we are lacking that goal this season.
“We don’t concede but we don’t score too much and I think we need to because we are creating enough chances but we need to be more determined to score.”