Conte confused by decision to postpone Arsenal clash

Antonio Conte has revealed he was bemused with the Premier League for their handling of postponed fixtures after Tottenham’s clash against Arsenal last weekend was called off.

The Italian described the Premier League’s decision to accept The Gunners’ request to call off the north London Derby as ‘strange and surprising’ as Spurs’ rivals only had one confirmed COVID case.

Most of their actual absentees were due to injury or being away at the Africa Cup of Nations.

And Conte added that the league should consider changing their schedule if they are going to start postponing games because of injuries.

He told reporters: “It was disappointing because we prepared the game to play against Arsenal and the decision to postpone the game was very, very strange. The club made a statement to show our disappointment.

“I think that if the Premier League decides to postpone games for injury it means that maybe they have to try to make a best schedule and to reduce many to play games, and if they don’t want injuries and if they don’t want the risk to postpone for injuries.

“Sometimes it’s very strange to listen about the welfare of the players, because if you think that someone has to look to the welfare of the players, surely you have to play less games and especially not to play games within two days.

“Otherwise why do you speak about the welfare of players? It’s only honest views, only to tell something that is stupid in my opinion because you protect the players to give them rest, to play and rest but if we want only to play and then sure you can speak about the welfare of the players. It’s very strange.

“My feeling is that when there is a situation to play we have to play. Not to postpone games for injuries, for international duty.

“I think we have a big problem to solve and it’s COVID, but only about this situation can you decide to postpone, not for other situations.

“Honestly, it’s my first time in my life – and I’ve had a bit of experience in football – to see postpone games because of injuries.”

Spurs are back in action when they visit Leicester on Wednesday for a rearranged game that was originally postponed in December.

Tottenham had origunally wanted the game called off so they could play their outstanding UEFA Conference League group game against Rennes, which had been postponed the previous week due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Spurs squad.

The Premier League declined the request – resulting in Conte’s side effectively being disqualified from the competition – only to postpone the game anyway due to a shortage of players in the Leicester camp.

Spurs are still deciding whether to appeal against UEFA’s decision to award the game to Rennes, but Conte blames the situation on the Premier League.