EDDIE Howe believes it is vital Cherries do not "get lost in the hype" over their current form and admits his team are still "getting punished" for their disappointing early-season displays.

Cherries' 1-0 defeat to Tottenham was their sixth defeat in eight Premier League games and left the Dorset club four points adrift of safety with only Crystal Palace below them in the standings.

A hugely important trip to 17th-place Stoke City awaits on Saturday and Howe wants his side to build on recent performances which have given him grounds for optimism.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “The challenge is to not get lost in the hype and the feeling of losing, where you can suddenly think, ‘we have got to change everything’ and come away from things we have trusted and used so well down the years.

“You also have to see the games you are playing in context. We’ve played Arsenal and Tottenham away and Manchester City at home. Last year we found those games incredibly difficult and it was no different to this year.

“The challenge for us is against the other teams in the division where we are going to need to pick up points."

Asked if he felt more upbeat than several weeks ago, Howe said: “In terms of performances, yes. We were looking at the team and scratching our heads and thinking we weren’t recognisable from how we have been in terms of spirit, endeavour and everything.

“The first two games (defeats to West Brom and Watford) were a real disappointment and we are probably getting punished for those games now in terms of the league position and how everyone’s feeling.

“But I think in the past month, we have returned to somewhere near our best levels.

“We could have won the Leicester game by a big number and everyone would feel different about the team."

Cherries have managed just one goal in their past three league fixtures but have gone close on a number of occasions.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a stunning first-half stop to deny Howe's men at Wembley and the Frenchman also kept out a near-post effort from substitute Jermain Defoe late in the game.

“That seems to be that that is the spell we’re in," added Howe.

"Sometimes you go through phases. I’ve had them plenty of times before where you are conceding a number of goals but not producing poor performances defensively.

“We’ve had times where we have not really created much and scored three goals.

“You go through phases and it seems like the phase we are in at the moment is we are not creating a huge number of chances, I’m not going to lie, but the ones we are creating are good opportunities.

“Usually, when you go to grounds like Tottenham, you know you are not going to get many and when they come you have got to try to take them."