Antonio Conte has hit back at Jurgen Klopp’s analysis of his Tottenham side, insisting that Liverpool were lucky to escape with a point from their weekend meeting at Anfield.
Spurs left Liverpool’s title hopes in tatters after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw – a result that did Tottenham’s Champions League aspirations no favours. For Liverpool, the Reds are now three points behind Manchester City at the summit of the Premier League.
After seeing his hopes of clinching a history-making quadruple take a major hit, Klopp was visibly frustrated after the match and lashed out at Conte’s tactics. He said: “I don’t like this kind of football. I think they’re world-class, and I think they should do more for the game. They play a world-class team, they sit back. They drew against us now, they won against [Manchester] City. So the game plan works for these games but they’re still fifth, so that’s how it is.”
But Conte has fired after Klopp’s emotional outburst – and the Italian is adamant that it was his side who deserved all three points at the weekend, not Liverpool.
Speaking about Klopp’s comments ahead of Thursday’s crunch north London derby, Conte said: “We analysed the game the day after, and for sure if there was a team that deserved to win, it was Tottenham not Liverpool.
“In this game, I think Klopp understood he gained one point not lost two points. Jurgen is intelligent, he was a bit frustrated after the game. At the same time, for us, for a top coach, it’s important to be focused on your team, not your opponents. To be focused on your opponents, means you want to find an excuse or alibi because it means something in your job was wrong.”
When asked if he was surprised by Klopp’s outburst, Conte did concede that keeping emotions in check after a bad result is easier said than done – especially when speaking directly after a match. He added: “Honestly, for the coach it’s not simple, it’s not easy after the game. You have to try to keep a cool head. Sometimes it’s not easy or simple.
“If you remember this season I was disappointed for a bad result and I was disappointed with myself, with my players. When we lost against Burnley and (laughs) if you remember I gave to myself the fault about the defeat. Sometimes we’re a bit frustrated, especially when you arrive at the end of the season and you understand that a bad game and a bad result can change the target for you.
“But I repeat, I have great respect for Jurgen and I know that he respects me a lot. This is a good chance for him, for me and all the coaches to learn that during the game you never speak about your opponents. It’s important to be focused on your team and the situations where you can maybe do better. You speak about your own problems.”