Antonio Conte described reports linking him with a return to Juventus as “disrespectful” ahead of Tottenham’s North London Derby clash with Arsenal.
Spurs are unbeaten in their seven Premier League games this season and trail the Gunners by just one point ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Emirates Stadium.
Should Tottenham avoid defeat at the home of their local rivals, it will be just the second time they have gone unbeaten through their first eight games of a Premier League season, having previously done so in 2016-17.
Conte’s work with Tottenham has seen him linked with a return to Juventus, who he led to three consecutive Serie A titles between 2011-12 and 2013-14.
Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri is under pressure after they recorded just two wins in their opening seven Serie A matches this season, but Conte has rubbished speculation he would be tempted by a return to Turin.
“This is incredible. In this period I think this is disrespectful for the coach that works in Juventus and for me working in Tottenham,” Conte said on Thursday.
“We have just started the season. Many times I have spoken about this topic and I’ve always said I’m happy and enjoying my time with Tottenham.
“We have the whole season to find the best solution for the club and for me, and for sure I’m enjoying my time at Tottenham. I have a great relationship with the owner [Daniel Levy] and [sporting director Fabio] Paratici.
“I don’t see any problems at the moment in the future. We both signed the contract. I don’t want to listen to someone speaking about this.”
Next up: the North London Derby pic.twitter.com/q0YVwButp9
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 28, 2022
Tottenham overcame Arsenal in a tense battle for Champions League qualification last season, going on to claim fourth place after beating the Gunners 3-0 in May.
Conte, however, believes Mikel Arteta’s side have improved since then, adding: “For sure Arsenal had a fantastic start, they lost only one game against [Manchester] United. They are showing to be a really good team.
“In the summer they made good signings and improved the team that, don’t forget, before the last three games of last season, were four points up on us.
“We are talking about a really good team that, last season, we did a really good job to overcome in the last three games.
“At the same time, I know the quality of this team, that they are working with Arteta for many years. For me, he’s a really good coach. He can have in front of him a great career.”
Both Hugo Lloris and Dejan Kulusevski are reportedly doubtful for the trip to Arsenal with minor injuries, and Conte believes the punishing nature of the schedule between now and the World Cup will reveal which sides are genuine title contenders.
“I have seen that many clubs are having big problems with players that played these two games [in the international break], and for sure Tottenham is one of these clubs,” he added.
“You have to understand this was the last game [for the players] to show they deserve to play the World Cup, also for the coaches it was the last period to call the players.
England goal number 51 for Harry and 90 minutes for Eric
Well played, lads! pic.twitter.com/zbaOaBnPqC
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 26, 2022
“For sure, to play so many games before the international break, and then again now to play 13 games in 43 days, it’s crazy, it’s crazy.
“For sure, we have to face it with injuries. In this period, you understand which are the really competitive squads.
“This is the moment in which you understand who are the title contenders and the teams that are competitive for Champions League.”
Saturday’s match will be the first North London Derby since December 2007 to begin with one of the sides sitting top of the Premier League.
Should Spurs win, it would be the first time in top-flight history that either of the teams has beaten the other to replace them at the top of the table.
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