London: Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte offered an abrupt response to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s gripes about the fixtures scheduling, with sympathy in short supply.
Arteta, whose side are battling Tottenham for fourth spot in the Premier League, has complained about his side being forced to play Aston Villa today, three days after an intense 2-0 defeat at home by Liverpool.
Arteta has also expressed his concern that the yet-to-be-arranged clash away at Tottenham could further crowd the schedule, after it was called off in January with Arsenal saying they had a shortage of players due to injuries, COVID-19 and players away on international duty.
Game called off
Asked about Arteta’s comments, Conte, who was critical of the decision to call off the Arsenal game when they only had one confirmed COVID-19 case, said: “Arteta should remember the game postponed. Tottenham-Arsenal. In general, I think my answer is enough. If someone wants to think about fair or unfair. (It was) postponed the game, Tottenham-Arsenal. I don’t forget this. And it’s not right to speak about fair or unfair.”
Conte’s Tottenham side have won four of their last six games and have climbed to seventh place, level on points and with a game in hand of London rivals West Ham United who they face tomorrow at home.
They are also two points behind fifth-placed Manchester United, with a game in hand, and three behind fourth-placed Arsenal who have played one game fewer.
Victory over West Ham would be a huge boost for Tottenham’s top-four hopes.
West Ham themselves will be feeling the strain after beating Sevilla after extra time on Thursday to reach the Europa League quarter-finals, but Conte was not reading much into that.
“I can answer you after the game and tell you how the Sevilla game affects the game against us,” he told reporters.
“For sure, on one hand they played 120 minutes but when you get this type of result it gives you confidence, enthusiasm and strength. For sure, it’ll be a really tough game for both teams. We’re in the same position and we have the same target.”
Out for the season
Conte confirmed defender Japhet Tanganga is out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery, but said midfielder Oliver Skipp could return after the international break.
The Italian also offered a boost to defender Eric Dier who was not included in the England squad for the forthcoming friendly internationals against Switzerland and Ivory Coast.
“(England coach Gareth Southgate) knows Eric very well and he has not to discover Eric because he was previously in the national team,” he said. “I’m sure if Eric continues to play this way, he has a great possibility to go to the World Cup because, I repeat, he’s one of the best defenders in this league.”