Antonio Conte has described the Premier League’s decision to postpone Sunday’s North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal as “very strange”.
The Italian was set to have his first taste of the rivalry at the weekend with Spurs due to host their age-old adversaries, but the match has now been pushed back following a request from Arsenal to the Premier League.
The Gunners claimed they had “many players unavailable across our squad as a result of Covid, injuries and players away with their countries at AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations)”.
Conte has now called into question the Premier League’s decision-making process, saying it’s “the first time in my life” that he has seen a football match postponed due to concerns about injuries.
He said: “The club made a statement and I think the club expressed our disappointment about the decision. It was for sure a strange decision.
“My feeling is that when there is a situation to play, we have to play and not postpone games for injuries or for international duty.
“We have a big problem to solve with Covid but only about this situation can you decide to postpone.
“This is the first time in my life – and I have a bit of experience in football – to see this decision. In this way, anything can happen.”
Spurs were succesful in their appeal to postpone last month’s match against Brighton, while they were also eliminated from the Europa Conference League as they were unable to replay their final group game against Rennes after the initial contest was pushed back.
Conte went on to give his thoughts regarding Spurs’ European exit, as well as what the Premier League’s decision at the weekend now means for his side.
He added: “It’s not simple to prepare the game in every aspect, then arrive to play the game and it’s postponed for strange reasons.
“Tottenham was dropped off the Conference League because the Premier League didn’t want to move the game against Leicester. After the request of Leicester, they postponed. But Tottenham was dropped by UEFA. This is very strange.
“In this situation there is a big disappointment for us, especially as we love football and worked a lot to try to play this competition. It’s very difficult to accept this decision.
“It was a big damage to Tottenham from the Premier League. You have to try to protect your team in Europe and they penalised us in a bad way.
“We are working and we like to do this, but I think they have to show respect for our job.”