By George Sessions, PA
Antonio Conte has called on Tottenham and Arsenal to show respect to this weekend’s referee Craig Pawson after expressing his hatred for players that try to intimidate officials.
Spurs host the Premier League leaders on Sunday in a match where emotions usually run high with each team having a player sent off in the two fixtures of 2022.
Conte was asked on Friday if he had any concerns over the behaviour of Arsenal given they have been charged by the Football Association for failing to control their players in the last two matches against Newcastle and Oxford.
— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) January 12, 2023
He said: “No (concerns) but I like in an important game like this, (to see) 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 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.
“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.
“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.”
While Conte expects both sides to show respect on the pitch, he conceded on the touchline will be two managers who show passion.
“For sure, (Mikel) Arteta is a coach like me, we show our passion,” he added.
“What happens on the pitch is the moment, the emotion and nothing can prepare your mind for this.
🎙 “Kulusevski is going to be ready to play”
Antonio Conte with the latest team news! ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/v8SDWCdtJr
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 13, 2023
“For this reason, sometimes you can celebrate in a strange way. This passion is a pure passion and Arteta is another coach who likes to live the game, likes to stay on the pitch with his team.”
Tottenham look set to be boosted by the return of Dejan Kulusevski for Sunday’s derby.
The Swedish attacker has missed the last three matches with a minor muscle injury but is backed to be fit to face Arsenal.
Conte was less forthright about Rodrigo Bentancur and Richarlison (both hamstring) with a sense of caution surrounding the pair.
He revealed: “For Kulusevski, he had a training session in the last few days with us. I think he is going to be ready to play.
“About Richy and Rodrigo, both situations are improving.
“For us, it is very important to have patience, especially because these are important players for a long period.
“To accelerate the process to risk the recovery and to lose them for a long period again, is not good, is not positive. We have another training session tomorrow to monitor the situation about Rodrigo and Richy.”
Fellow attacker Lucas Moura remains sidelined with an Achilles tendon injury and Conte confirmed a decision had been made by the club not to extend his contract beyond the end of this season.