Tottenham manager Antonio Conte appeared to take aim at rivals Arsenal as he criticised players and teams for trying to pressure referees into making decisions.
Arsenal have been charged twice this season over their behaviour towards referees, against both Newcastle and Oxford, while Mikel Arteta came into the spotlight for some touchline antics against the former that were, in truth, nothing fans haven’t seen from most top-flight managers before.
With the two north London rivals set to butt heads on Sunday, Conte warned his players to control themselves on the pitch with what appeared to be a real dig at Arsenal’s recent conduct.
“You have to show respect in every situation and especially also with the referee because I know very well [how] difficult [it is] 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.”
Arsenal head into the game top of the Premier League, 11 points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham having played one game fewer.