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  • By Yann Tear

Conte serves up cold Spurs revenge dish - having sent Arteta's Arsenal to 'sleep with the fishes'

Anonio Conte invoked his inner Don Corleone to send a chilling shot across the bows at Mikel Arteta after the North London derby.

At any time, a 3-0 victory over Arsenal would feel sweet to a Spurs manager and their fans. But this one carried the echoes of that famous Italian phrase of revenge being a dish best served cold.

The Tottenham manager has been quietly seething ever since the Gunners had the derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium called off in January on the grounds of a Covid disruption.

In reality, only one first-teamer was unwell and the Spurs boss felt Arteta took advantage of the protocol of the time to have the game postponed because of a few injuries and fixture issues.

There is little doubt that Conte transmitted that fury to his players before kick-off because, to a man, they were on the money. Keen to right a wrong. And, to perhaps a lesser extent, keen to make up for the dire display when the sides met earlier in the season at the Emirates.

When Arteta claimed that his team had been denied a decent shot by ref Paul Tierney for sending off Rob Holding early in the 3-0 defeat, the response from Conte was withering in the extreme.

It also carried that almost sinister Godfather undertone which will have delighted home fans – who are already massively enamoured with the former Chelsea boss.

Arteta said: “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 if not, I will be suspended and I really want to be on the touchline against Newcastle [on Monday].

“We were so excited to play the game and you see the team how we started, the way we were playing and this beautiful occasion was destroyed and, unfortunately, we could not enjoy the game that we wanted to play.”

Conte’s response, slow and deliberate, must have cut to the core: “I listen to him complain a lot,” he said. “I think that he has to be focused more to his team and not to complain.

“Because he has just started this work and I think that he has to be calm and try to continue to work, because he’s very good. But to listen to a coach complain a lot of times is not good.

“This is my advice. If he wants to accept my advice, it’s good, otherwise, I don’t care.

“Arsenal were good to postpone a game in an incredible way [he said with mock laughter] for positive Covid and they had only one player with Covid [raised finger]. I didn’t forget this.”


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