No excuses for Arteta as Conte takes the plaudits

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal – Premier League Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Reaction

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Arsenal

Dubbed as the biggest North London derby since, well, the last one, the simple truth of the matter is that one team turned up and the other didn’t. One manager got it spot-on, the other, woefully wrong.

Mikel Arteta clearly wasn’t happy with referee, Paul Tierney, but closer to home, the Gunners boss got it horribly wrong. Attempting to contain and defend in numbers against a side needing three points and prepared to throw the kitchen sink at them to get it, was clearly a misplaced mindset.

Ill discipline saw Rob Holding back in the bath before the half-hour mark. Tottenham, two goals to the good, Arsenal the orchestrators of their own downfall.

“I cannot do it,” The Spaniard said when quizzed over the officials’ performance.

“I just want to say I’m very proud of my players. Obviously, we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but I can’t wait to play on Monday.

“I want to be on the touchline on Monday night. No, because I will be suspended.

“You can ask the referee if he wants to give an assessment of the match. I have two options. I can lie to you which I don’t do or I can be suspended, and I really want to be on the touchline against Newcastle.”

The game was originally scheduled for January but was controversially called off at a time when the Gunners had several key players unavailable. Antonio Conte was quick to remind his opposite number of the fact: “For sure, it wasn’t a good situation because we were ready to play at that time and to see the game postponed in a strange way made us angry. But this is the past, the present is different.

“I said in the press conference, I prefer to play against Arsenal with all their players available because if I have to beat Arsenal, they have to play with all their players.

“I think maybe my players were a bit angry also for the first leg because we lost 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium. And then, I repeat, an important target tonight. Only winning the game would continue the possibility to keep the hope of finishing in the Champions League places.”

Conte suggested that the Gunners chief had plenty to learn: “I think that Mikel Arteta is a really good coach,” he added.

“He’s being a really good coach. He’s just started to do this job and I think that I hear him complain a lot. I think that he needs to be focused more on his team and not to complain.

“Because he has just started his work and I think he has to be calm and to try to continue to work. Because he’s very good but to listen to a coach complain a lot of time is not good.

“But it’s okay. The red card, for me, was clear. Don’t forget, against Liverpool I said nothing that happened with Fabinho, a lot of time, because if we want to complain we have the possibility every game to speak about the referee, about the decision, about the postponed game. I think that this is the advice if you want to accept the advice. If you don’t I don’t care.”

Focusing on football, Conte was thrilled with his side’s toil: “I’m delighted with the way we managed the pressure.

“I speak about this, the pressure was only on our shoulders tonight. Arsenal could draw or win, they had two good results to keep us far from a place in the Champions League.

“To see my players manage this, what happens when there is a red card on the other side you have to pay more attention, especially when they have one yellow card.

“We spoke with Ben after the first half to pay attention. I am delighted with the way they managed and the attitude they showed.”

Brian Jeeves

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