Conte has no sympathy for Arteta over fixture congestion

Arsenal, battling Tottenham for fourth spot in the Premier League, plays Aston Villa on Saturday, three days after an intense 2-0 defeat at home by Liverpool.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte.   -  REUTERS

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte offered an abrupt response to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta's gripes about the fixtures scheduling on Friday, with sympathy in short supply.

Arteta, whose side is battling Tottenham for fourth spot in the Premier League, has complained about his side being forced to play Aston Villa on Saturday, three days after an intense 2-0 defeat at home by Liverpool.

Arteta has also expressed his concern that the yet-to-be-arranged clash away at Tottenham could further crowd the schedule, after it was called off in January with Arsenal saying it had a shortage of players due to injuries, COVID-19 and players away on international duty.

Asked about Arteta's comments, Conte, who was critical of the decision to call off the Arsenal game when it only had one confirmed COVID-19 case, said: "Arteta should remember the game postponed. Tottenham-Arsenal.

"In general, I think my answer is enough. If someone wants to think about fair or unfair. (It was) postponed the game, Tottenham-Arsenal. I don't forget this. And it's not right to speak about fair or unfair."

READ: Arteta wary of Coutinho threat as Arsenal head to Villa

Conte's Tottenham side has won four of its last six games and has climbed to seventh place, level on points and with a game in hand of London rival West Ham United which it faces on Sunday at home.

It is also two points behind fifth-placed Manchester United, with a game in hand, and three behind fourth-placed Arsenal which has played one game fewer.

Victory over West Ham on Sunday would be a huge boost for Tottenham's top-four hopes.

West Ham itself will be feeling the strain after beating Sevilla after extra time on Thursday to reach the Europa League quarter-finals, but Conte was not reading much into that.

"I can answer you after the game and tell you how the Sevilla game affects the game against us," he told reporters.

"For sure, on one hand they played 120 minutes but when you get this type of result it gives you confidence, enthusiasm and strength. For sure, it'll be a really tough game for both teams. We're in the same position and we have the same target."

Conte confirmed defender Japhet Tanganga is out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery, but said midfielder Oliver Skipp could return after the international break.

The Italian also offered a boost to defender Eric Dier who was not included in the England squad for the forthcoming friendly internationals against Switzerland and Ivory Coast.

"(England coach Gareth Southgate) knows Eric very well and he has not to discover Eric because he was previously in the national team," he said. "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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