Saturday, February 4, 2023

Conte concedes Arsenal deserve Premier League lead after derby-day victory over Tottenham

SoccerNews in English Premier League 15 Jan 2023


Antonio Conte was disappointed but conceded Arsenal deserved to be leading the Premier League after a commanding 2-0 victory at Tottenham.

Arsenal moved eight points clear at the Premier League summit after their first win at their north London rivals since 2014, with Hugo Lloris’ inexplicable own goal and Martin Odegaard’s strike the difference.

Spurs had their own chances against the league-leading Gunners, with Aaron Ramsdale making fine stops to deny Son Heung-min and Harry Kane amid his seven saves in the match.

Tottenham have conceded at least two goals in five consecutive home league games for the first time since August 1992, but Conte refused to criticise his players after another disappointing showing.

“We wanted to deliver and get a result for our fans because we know how important this type of game is for them,” the Spurs head coach told BBC’s Match of the Day.

“This game was also important for us and to improve the table. I am disappointed with the result. We started well and started in a strong way and then we conceded a goal.

“Football is strange and sometimes a situation happens, it is very difficult to explain. We had a good chance to equalise with Sonny but the Arsenal keeper made a fantastic save.

“The second goal could kill everybody. I have to be happy with the reaction. They stayed there with their head and mind, and I asked for that.

“In this sort of game you can lose the mind and concede many goals but instead we created chances. We continued to have a good balance and didn’t concede great chances.

“We have to be disappointed and for our fans. Arsenal deserve to stay top of the table and fight to win the Premier League. They and Manchester City are the two title contenders.”

Tottenham have lost four home Premier League games this season, Conte’s joint-highest tally of such defeats in a single league campaign (also 2017-18 with Chelsea and 2007-08 with Bari).

That turgid run of home form, coupled with some underwhelming away performances, has left Spurs five points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United, who have played a game fewer.

Fulham, Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford are all within four points of Tottenham, and Conte knows a tough challenge awaits in the bid for European football.

He told Sky Sports: “We have to continue to work really hard and we will see our position at the end of the season. Be it the Champions League or Europa League.

“Teams like Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United, Newcastle, also Brighton and Brentford. It is really difficult because every team can spend money and even the middle or lower teams have international players.”

The clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was somewhat marred by a fan kicking Ramsdale, who had just been confronted by Richarlison, after the full-time whistle.

“I didn’t see it. I only see a big confusion and you are telling me now what happened,” Conte added.

“If it happened, it is not good. We always have to show respect for an opponent and the players. I don’t like it.”


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