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Mikel Arteta hits back at Antonio Conte’s jibe ahead of Newcastle clash

Mikel Arteta hits back at Antonio Conte’s jibe ahead of Newcastle clash

Mikel Arteta intends to retaliate against Antonio Conte by ensuring Arsenal finishes the season ahead of their bitter rivals.

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte ordered Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to quit whining and concentrate on his own team after the Gunners were blasted 3-0 in the north London derby on Thursday, reigniting the race for Champions League participation.

The pair have been sniping since Arsenal’s first January match was postponed owing to a mix of injury and Covid absences.

Arteta now maintains that his players have moved on from their derby defeat and that he has followed Conte’s recommendations to the letter.

When asked if he had a message for the fiery Italian coach, Arteta replied, “Yes – I am completely focused on beating Newcastle.”

Two wins in their next two matches, beginning sunday at Newcastle, would seal Arsenal’s qualification for the Champions League and likely sentence Spurs to Europa League action next season, but any slip-up may hand Conte’s side the opportunity.

Arteta said: “I’m only looking forward, as I said afterwards [at Spurs]. That game was lost and we were disappointed but now we have a have huge game to play against Newcastle. We have fully focused all our energy on that.”

Arsenal returned to training yesterday after a day off, and Arteta claimed they had already moved on from a setback he blamed on poor refereeing more than his team’s lack of poise on the night.

“We started the game extremely well, then we conceded that first goal after that [penalty] decision.” he said.

“After that we got into a situation that is difficult to judge, or assess, but I was really proud of the players.

|They tried to handle the situation, but very disappointed with the result. The way they have reacted since has shown me how lucky I am to have them, how they stand [up to pressure] under any difficulty, how much they are looking forward to play on Monday, how excited they are about the challenge ahead.

“We all know everything that we’ve been through throughout the season to fight to be in this position. But two games and needing two wins is a good place to be.”

Arsenal were thrashed so hard against Tottenham that it appeared to have a long-term negative influence on their chances of returning to the Champions League for the first time in five years. However, Arteta advised his opponents not to underestimate his players’ tenacity.

“Losing like that is always painful,” said Arteta. “But you also learn a lot, probably more than with any win. So it’s good to go through those moments sometimes. Hopefully that helps us on Monday.”

Aside from mending damaged egos, Arteta’s main issue is a lack of centre defenders. 

Rob Holding has been suspended following his red card versus Tottenham. Gabriel, who walked off, and Ben White, who hasn’t played a minute in their last three games due to a hamstring injury, could both be out.


Mikel Arteta hits back at Antonio Conte’s jibe ahead of Newcastle clash

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