LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho accused some of his players of hiding during the first half of their 2-1 London derby defeat by Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday (Mar 14).
Spurs had a great chance to boost their top-four hopes with a win at the home of their arch-rivals and got their noses in front with a wonderful Erik Lamela goal.
But Arsenal deservedly equalised on the stroke of halftime through Martin Odegaard and Alexander Lacazette's second-half penalty sealed the points for the Gunners.
Arsenal hit the woodwork twice in the first half and dominated a lacklustre Spurs side who were strangely timid despite winning their last three Premier League games and starting with Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale in a formidable looking forward line.
"We played really bad in the first half. The 1-1 score was not a fair reflection of the first half. We were poor. Defending bad. No intensity or pressing. Some important players hiding," Mourinho, who could be heard bellowing his disapproval at times inside the empty Emirates Stadium, told Sky Sports.
"I don't want to speak about commitment, it was the same from both teams but they were much better in the first half. In the second half we recovered control of the game."
Asked to explain further, Mourinho later told reporters: "Playing in a London derby you are a big player. Playing in the Premier League you are a big player.
"It's not that I'm pointing the finger to Player A, B or C, even pointing the finger to myself because we are a team."
Lamela's 'Rabona' just past the half-hour mark was the one moment of quality from the visitors before their late siege, after the Argentine had been sent off, almost rescued a point.
"The goal was sensational no doubt. But the most important thing is the result and we lost the game," Mourinho said.
Bale and Tanguy Ndombele were substituted in the second half with Mourinho explaining the reason in blunt terms.
"Intensity. Gareth and Tanguy, we need more intensity in that game. We need to press more. We need to get more depth. We need to be more intense in the game," he added.
"We needed initially (substitute Moussa) Sissoko to give us that intensity in midfield that Tanguy was not bringing. Even with 10 players, I think it was proven that our team improved significantly. The second half was our half."
Mourinho took issue with referee Michael Oliver for awarding the penalty for a foul by Davinson Sanchez on Lacazette. Lacazette made a mess of a volleyed attempt at goal before Sanchez then took down the Frenchman.
"I don't want to call it a penalty, because it's an offence to the penalty," Mourinho said.
"Players get tired, coaches get tired, maybe referees get tired too. My record with Michael Oliver on penalties with Chelsea, (Manchester) United and Tottenham is unlucky."
A bad day for Spurs who remained seventh, six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand, was compounded by a muscle injury to Son that saw Lamela come on in the 19th minute.
"I don't know how long it is (Son's injury absence). Muscular is always not easy. He's a guy that normally he recovers very well from any kind of injury. And that's football. That's the accumulation of matches," said Mourinho.