Mikel Arteta is a rookie and should complain less, says Conte

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Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur laughs with Match Referee, Paul Tierney after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, 2022 in London, England - - GETTY IMAGES
Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur laughs with Match Referee, Paul Tierney after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, 2022 in London, England - - GETTY IMAGES

Antonio Conte launched a scathing attack on Mikel Arteta for the Arsenal manager’s suggestion, after his side’s North London derby defeat, that the officials’ decisions went against them – especially in the first-half dismissal of defender Rob Holding.

The Tottenham Hotspur manager, whose side won 3-0 with two goals from Harry Kane and another in the second half from Son Heung-min, said that his counterpart should “complain less” given that he had just “started in the job”. The win for Spurs keeps them one point behind Arsenal in the race for fourth place with two games left for both sides.

Arteta protested in his post-match interviews that he could not offer his opinion on referee Paul Tierney because he would risk being “suspended six months”. He said: “If I say what I think I am suspended six months. I am allowed to give my interpretation of what I thought, but I do not like to lie. I cannot say what I think, I will be suspended. I am so proud of my players. Ask the referee to come here and explain his decisions. That's his decision. Such a beautiful game was destroyed here.”

In response Conte said that he had heard Arteta “complain a lot” for one who had “just started in the job”. He said that Arteta, who was appointed by Arsenal in December 2019, was a “really good coach” but went on to repeat a number of times that all managers had grounds for grievance. “[Arteta] has to be calm and continue to work,” Conte said, “Complaining a lot is not good.”

Conte said: “[Arteta] has just started in the job. I listen to him complain a lot. I think he has to focus more on his team and not to complain.”

Conte: 'Holding's dismissal was clear'

Conte said that Holding’s dismissal, for two yellow cards, both for fouls on Son, “was clear”. “Don’t forget that against Liverpool I said nothing about what happened with Fabinho,” Conte added, reflecting Spurs’ complaints that day at Anfield about the number of fouls committed by the Brazilian midfielder. “If we want to complain we have the possibility every game to speak about decisions. Or about the postponed game.”

That was a reference to the postponement of this fixture in January when Arsenal successfully applied to the Premier League under the Covid rules of the time. “Arsenal cancelled a game in an incredible way when they didn’t have a player with Covid,” Conte said. “If we want to complain we have a lot of possibilities. Why do I have to play on Sunday at 12pm [against Burnley] and Arsenal play on Monday evening [against Newcastle]? They had one day more rest than us this week and then we have to play on Sunday lunchtime.”

Conte admitted that the postponement had made him and his players “a bit angry”. He praised his players’ reaction in such a high-pressure game. “You know very well that in these must-win games it is never easy,” he said. “We had only one result: to win. Not only because it is a derby and we know how important it is to our fans … to win this game gave us the possibility to stay in the race to take a place in the Champions League.”

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