Antonio Conte warns Arsenal to respect refs ahead of derby

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Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said he “hates” any team trying to intimidate referees and warned Arsenal to respect the officials in Sunday’s north London derby.

Arsenal have been charged by the FA for failing to control their players in each of their past two matches, following incidents involving protesting decisions in last week’s Premier League draw against Newcastle and Monday’s 3-0 FA Cup third-round win at Oxford.

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Manager Mikel Arteta escaped a personal charge but received strong criticism for his reaction to the denial of a penalty claim in stoppage-time against Newcastle, shouting furiously at fourth official Stuart Atwell and leading to a brief altercation with Magpies boss Eddie Howe.

Asked whether he had concerns over Arsenal attempting to intimidate officials when facing Tottenham this weekend, Conte told a news conference on Friday: “No but I think that also in an important game like this, the respect is always at the top, OK?

“You have to show respect in every situation and especially also with the referee because I know very well the difficulty to be a referee, to take decisions.

“I think to intimidate [the referee] or to create a bad atmosphere is not fair. I don’t like this. I hate the people that try to do it. Don’t forget that we are talking always about a game of football.”

Conte went on to reference an incident against Sporting Lisbon in October, when he was sent off for contesting a VAR decision to overrule what would have been a stoppage-time winner in Tottenham’s Group D clash. Conte was sent off and subsequently served a one-match touchline ban.

“Sometimes it happens in the emotion, I remember very well against Sporting Lisbon, we scored in the 95th minute and then we stayed five minutes to wait for the VAR decision,” he continued.

“I was really upset but I never, never lacked the respect of the referee. Then, he sent me away because I went into the pitch but I think in every moment you have to show respect. Don’t forget this is football, an incredible sport and we have to respect each other.”

Dejan Kulusevski is expected to recover from a muscular problem but Rodrigo Bentancur [adductor] and Richarlison [hamstring] are doubts and will continue to be monitored in training on Saturday.



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