Conte claims difference between Tottenham and Chelsea is ‘clear’; refuses three times to answer question about Tuchel

·4-min read
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte Credit: PA Images
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte Credit: PA Images

Antonio Conte claimed Tottenham took a step forward on Sunday when admitting the difference between his side and Chelsea is “clear”.

Spurs twice hauled themselves back from behind to leave Stamford Bridge with a point in a fiercely-contested London derby.

Chelsea led early through Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese was inexplicably left unmarked at a corner and volleyed home to notch his first Blues goal.

Tottenham equalised through Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg after punishing a Jorginho error. The Italy international failed to clear his lines and was ruthlessly punished for performing an unwise drag-back when Hojbjerg fired home with a superb low drive.

Reece James put the hosts back in front, but there was just enough time at the death for Harry Kane to rescue a point in the 96th minute.

Ivan Perisic’s corner was met by the Tottenham talisman who saw his glanced header deflect in off James.

The drama did not stop there, however, with both managers seeing red after the match.

Thomas Tuchel and Conte were both noticeably animated during the match and both celebrated their side’s goals with vigour.

The pair shook hands at the final whistle, though Tuchel would not let go, instead hauling Conte back towards him and into a face-off.

That prompted the benches to clear with the tensions only simmering down once referee Anthony Taylor produced red cards for both managers.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Conte was asked three times for his thoughts on his fiery clash with Tuchel. On each occasion he refused to speak on the matter.

Instead, he said: “My opinion is it’s better to talk about the game. It was a difficult game for both teams and we try in every game to be competitive.

“Chelsea showed they are a really good team. Compared to last season we did better, but if we want to create problems for Chelsea [in the table] we have to be better.

“I don’t want to comment on the [Tuchel] situation, this is not the most important thing. If there’s a problem, it’s between me and him.”

On the Koulibaly goal that resulted in Spurs’ zonal marking system failing to pick him up, Conte was asked if there’s anything different they can do.

“For sure. We have to analyse the situation because there was a lot of space behind our line for Koulibaly to attack in a simple way.”

Conte on Tottenham progress

He continued: “It’s normal to come here and to suffer, but at the same time we created chances to always stay in the game.

“The difference is clear [between Chelsea and Tottenham]. I’m not here to discover this, but to try and reduce this gap.

“We know that we have to work and to try to take time. Last season we lost [to Chelsea] three times. Now we drew… a little step forward.”

Conte added that he didn’t see Christian Romero’s hair pull on Marc Cucurella in the corner that led to the corner Kane equalised from.

Tuchel’s view of the managers clash was the incident was sparked by Conte refusing to look him in the eyes while they shook hands.

The rest of the German’s reaction to the draw, including his thoughts on three apparent Chelsea injustices he labelled “ridiculous” can be found here.

Kane on Stamford Bridge hoodoo, manager red cards

Kane also spoke to the press, telling Sky Sports: “It was a tough game, playing against a really good side.

“We knew it was going to be a really tough battle. First half we weren’t good enough with or without the ball but second half I thought we came out and pressed well, got the goal. It was disappointing the way we conceded the second.

“But we carried on fighting and pressing and got one at the end there. I’m happy with the way we fought back especially second half and really nice feeling to get that one at the end.”

Regarding his goal that looked suspiciously like a James own goal, Kane added: “I flicked it on and I couldn’t really see where the ball went and then I saw the net rustling and it was right in front of our away fans.

“Especially after that chance I had earlier in the second half, it was nice to see that one go in.”

He continued: “It was a really important game for us to show where we are as a team.

“It’s a marathon not a sprint and we’ve got a long way to go with a World Cup in between but it was important especially after losing five or six times to them in cup or league, away from home at Stamford Bridge hasn’t been our best place over the years so to come away with a point especially at the end was a good feeling.

“It’s disappointing to see the red cards, I didn’t see what happened. Obviously it was an emotional game, London derby, the passion from both sides, both teams wanted to win. That’s sometimes what happens in these games.”

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