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Antonio Conte hits out at Mikel Arteta over Arsenal boss fixture complaint

Arteta criticised the Premier League following the Gunners’ midweek defeat to Liverpool.

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Antonio Conte and Mikel Arteta (Adam Davy/Zac Goodwin/PA)

Antonio Conte and Mikel Arteta (Adam Davy/Zac Goodwin/PA)

Antonio Conte and Mikel Arteta (Adam Davy/Zac Goodwin/PA)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has hit out at Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta for complaining about his side’s fixture list.

Arteta criticised the Premier League for scheduling the Gunners to play against Liverpool on Wednesday night and then Aston Villa on Saturday lunchtime, sarcastically saying “thank you to the Premier League” and calling it “not fair”.

But Conte said the Spaniard had no right to complain given the Gunners called off the north London derby in January, despite having only one confirmed case of coronavirus. The Premier League changed the rules regarding fixture postponements in the wake of that specific incident.

Conte said: “Arteta should remember the game postponed. Tottenham-Arsenal. If we speak about unfair…”

Pushed to elaborate, the former Chelsea boss said: “In general, I think my answer is enough. If someone wants to think about fair or unfair – (it was) postponed the game, Tottenham-Arsenal, if you remember. I don’t forget this. And it’s not right to speak about fair or unfair.”

Meanwhile, Conte believes Eric Dier can still go to the World Cup in December after calling him one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

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Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has hailed Eric Dier (Adam Davy/PA)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has hailed Eric Dier (Adam Davy/PA)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has hailed Eric Dier (Adam Davy/PA)

Dier, who has enjoyed a consistent season for Spurs, but was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming international break.

“He’s working very hard and in this moment he’s one of the best defenders in the league,” Conte said.

“He has also big space to improve his performance and his quality and to become a stronger and stronger player.

“In the past, I had the chance to coach the (Italy) national team and I understand that sometimes you have a plan.

He’s working very hard and in this moment he’s one of the best defenders in the league.Antonio Conte on Eric Dier

“At the moment, Southgate is preparing and he has a plan to prepare a squad for the World Cup in December. He knows Eric very well and he has (no need) to discover Eric because he was previously in the national team.

“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.”

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Dier’s defensive partner Cristian Romero has also impressed in recent weeks, though has come under the microscope for his behaviour on the pitch.

He has picked up eight yellow cards in 15 Premier League games and was also seen celebrating in the face of Harry Maguire after the Manchester United defender scored an own goal last week.

Conte has called on the Argentina defender to be more focused and says he is not afraid to shout at him.

“Cristian is a player who has to be focused in every moment of the game,” he said.

“If he’s good, he’s good to be focused from the start, from the first second to the last second of the game. He is a really important player for us. I think he has a bit to improve in this situation, to be focused in every moment of the game.

“Sometimes he takes a yellow card that he can avoid. I think that he has to improve in his aspect, to be focused from the start until the end.

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Cristian Romero has seen plenty of yellow cards this season (Tim Goode/PA)

Cristian Romero has seen plenty of yellow cards this season (Tim Goode/PA)

Cristian Romero has seen plenty of yellow cards this season (Tim Goode/PA)

“Sometimes you can’t explain this to him in a good manner. Sometimes you have to shout! (Laughs) But he’s a good guy and he understands very well that what I do is always best for the team and best for the player to improve himself, because I think he has great quality to become a top defender so when I think this it’s important to find the right way to improve the player.”

Japhet Tanganga (knee) has been ruled out for the season after undergoing surgery, Oliver Skipp should return after the international break while Ryan Sessegnon is another four weeks away from a return to training.

There are no new injuries ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash in the top-four race with West Ham.

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