LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte shrugged off a record-wrecking 2-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, insisting his players must dust themselves down and restart their Premier League title quest.
Two Dele Alli headers meant Chelsea’s hopes of winning a 14th consecutive Premier League game -- which would have been a record in a single campaign -- foundered at White Hart Lane.
Italian Conte, however, said the defeat was very different to the 3-0 reverse they suffered at Arsenal on Sept. 24, since when they have been unstoppable.
“We are disappointed but also we must be pleased for our run as 13 wins in this league is not easy,” Conte told reporters.
”But this is a different defeat to the one in September because today we lost the game, but showed that we were a team.
“Against Arsenal, we weren’t a team, today we were.”
Chelsea could have gone eight points clear at the top with a first victory at White Hart Lane since 2012 and while five points is still a healthy margin over nearest rivals Liverpool, Conte insists the title race is now wide open.
Tottenham moved up to third, seven points behind, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference while Arsenal are a point further adrift and Manchester United two further back.
”Today we lost against a good team, a really strong team and don’t forget Tottenham fought last season for the title,“ Conte said. ”They are improving, and they are one of the six teams that can fight to win the title.
“We are top of the table because we are working a lot, but for sure this league is very tough and we must continue to work and improve. A defeat can happen against Tottenham, now it’s important to restart.”
Conte’s side had boasted the meanest defence in the league until Wednesday’s defeat so the nature of both Tottenham’s goals -- carbon-copy crosses and headers -- was a surprise.
Tottenham have now conceded the least goals -- 14 in 20 games.
“It is strange for us to concede these goals because we are defending well, and they are in a crucial moment,” he said.
”At the end of the first half and then in the second half after we miss the chances to score, but this can happen.
“My priority is to win again. The training doesn’t change if you win or you lose. We have to continue to work.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis