Mikel Arteta has responded to Antonio Conte’s suggestion that he complains excessively ahead of Arsenal’s crucial match against Newcastle.
Following his side’s 3-0 loss to Tottenham in the North London derby on Thursday night, the Spaniard accused referee Paul Tierney of “killing” the game with his decisions, particularly the first-half dismissal of Rob Holding, which left the Gunners with ten men.
In his post-match interview, Arteta stated that if he expressed his true feelings, he would face a six-month suspension. As a result, Spurs manager Conte mocked his Emirates opponent, saying, “I listen to him complain a lot,” in an attempt to put further pressure on Arteta as the two clubs compete for a top-four berth.
Mikel Arteta has now hit back at Conte, insisting:
“What I have tried to do I think in three years here is not make any complaints.
“I have no complaint and I didn’t complain on Thursday. I just said I could not give a clear assessment on what I thought about the game. And that’s it.
“Whatever we do we will try to defend the club in the right way, like we have always tried to do. The other night I tried to do it as well. That was not trying to affect anybody.
“But I was being clear and honest. I think that is my job and my responsibility when I talk on behalf of the club to express how we feel. And if I cannot do it, I prefer not to.”
Arteta believes that a fifth-place finish would not be a satisfactory end to Arsenal’s campaign, stating:
“We want to be playing in the Champions League. And that’s the end.
“We’ve come so far, as I said, it’s in our hands and we want to now capitalise on that, and the excitement and the opportunities there, and we will really want to go for it.”
He also believes that the team has fared well despite failing to add to the squad after the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Pablo Mari, and Callum Chambers in January.
“We’ve gone so far with with this group of players. There were decisions that had and have to be made. And it was not just the club or myself but also the players that were in those positions and how they were going to contribute to the team.
“We tried to do it the right way. And then obviously, we’ve been very unlucky with some long term injuries that obviously have made the situation even more difficult.”