EPL

'We postponed the Tottenham-Arsenal game, I don't forget this' – Conte hits back at Arteta scheduling concerns

By Sports Desk March 18, 2022

Antonio Conte called on Mikel Arteta to remember the postponed clash between Tottenham and Arsenal, after the Gunners' manager fumed at the Premier League schedule.

Arteta vented his frustration after a 2-0 loss to Liverpool on Wednesday, sarcastically thanking the league for their scheduling, which sees Arsenal visit Aston Villa in Saturday's early kick-off.

Arsenal also face Chelsea and Manchester United in quick succession next month, on April 20 and 23, and the Spaniard doubled down on his comments ahead of the clash with Villa.

Arteta suggested "we've been the only team that has been scheduled like that", citing the short turnaround time as a problem for players' welfare heading into the crunch period of the season.

Spurs head coach Conte was quick to remind his north London rival of the situation in January that left Tottenham "extremely surprised" following the postponement of the derby with Arsenal, who were granted a rearrangement due to COVID-19, injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations leaving them with a "depleted squad".

When asked about Arteta's recent comments, Conte told Friday's pre-match news conference: "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. We postponed the game, Tottenham-Arsenal. I don't forget this. And it's not right to speak about fair or unfair."

Spurs host fellow top-four chasers West Ham on Sunday, currently sitting three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who have played one game fewer.

While Conte believes the meeting with David Moyes' side may be too soon for Oliver Skipp, the Italian hopes to have the midfielder back after the international break.

"About Skippy, I hope to have him after the international break," Conte said. "His pain is getting better and better.

"About Ryan [Sessegnon], we're waiting for weeks to have another scan and then if everything is OK he'll restart training sessions with us."

The former Inter and Chelsea coach was also keen to praise Cristian Romero, who he feels will be a key player with the right guidance.

"Cristian is a player who has to be focused in every moment of a game," he added. "If he's good, he's focused from the start, from the first to last second of the game and he's a really important player for us.

"He has a bit to improve in this situation, to be focused on every moment of the game. Sometimes he gets a yellow card he can avoid. He has to improve in this aspect, to be focused from the start to the end.

"Sometimes you can't explain this in a good manner - you have to shout! But he's a good guy and he understands that what I do is always best for the team and himself.

"He has quality to be a great defender so it's important to find the right way to improve the player."

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    Asked whether City need to win their six remaining games to win the title, Guardiola said: "Yes, absolutely. They gave us a chance, with the fact they lost last week to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace. 

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    Guardiola was then asked whether City are as motivated to win the title as their rivals, having lifted the trophy in five of their seven seasons under him to date.

    He said: "I would not be here [if not]. There are so many games, and to be in this position after what we have done in the past, it would not be possible [without the desire]. 

    "We know the difficulty is extreme, and it will remain difficult because we have tough games coming up. We go one game at a time, and we know that if we lose, it will be so tough to retain the title. 

    "Last Saturday proved the many difficulties we have, especially the schedule and recovery time after the game against [Real] Madrid. The players were unbelievable."

    Guardiola hit out at the busy nature of the schedule after Saturday's FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea, saying he couldn't understand how his players had managed to perform just three days after their penalty shoot-out defeat to Madrid.

    Those comments have sparked renewed debate about the football calendar, and Guardiola was asked whether elite clubs had a right to complain while organising money-spinning pre-season tours around the globe.

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  • Xavi commits U-turn and elects to stay at Barcelona Xavi commits U-turn and elects to stay at Barcelona

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