Antonio Conte has hit back at Jurgen Klopp for the German's comments about Tottenham Hotspur's style of play on Saturday.
Title-chasing Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Spurs, a result that allowed Manchester City to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to three points after their 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United on Sunday.
Klopp took aim at Spurs' tactics after the match at Anfield, saying: “I don’t like this kind of football, but that is my problem. I cannot coach it.” He has since backtracked, admitting he should not have made the comments but that "they felt good in the moment" after dropping two vital points.
But Conte has now dismissed the criticism as the German looking for "excuse or an alibi" after a frustrating draw. “Jurgen is an intelligent person, very clever,” the Italian coach said.
“He was a bit frustrated after the game, but at the same time for every coach it is important to learn to be focused on your team, not the opponent. It means you want to find an excuse or an alibi because your job didn’t work or something was wrong.
“I have respect for Jurgen and I know he respects me a lot and this is a good chance for him and me to learn that during the game you never have to speak about your opponent. It is important to be focused on your team.
“Honestly, for the coach it is not simple after the game, you have to try to keep your head cool.
“Sometimes it is not easy and many times if you remember this season I was disappointed with the result and myself and my players.
“When we lost against Burnley [1-0 at Turf Moor in February] if you remember I gave to myself the fault of the defeat. Sometimes we are a bit frustrated, especially at the end of the season when a bad result can change an important target for you.”
Apart from damaging Liverpool's title prospects, the draw also hurt Tottenham's hopes of finishing in the top four and securing a Champions League place next season.
Liverpool 1 Tottenham 1: player ratings
Fourth-place Arsenal defeated Leeds United 2-1 on Sunday to open up a four-point gap on Tottenham, ahead of the teams' North London derby clash on Thursday.
If Mikel Arteta's team win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, then they will have secured a top-four finish. After the game on Thursday night, Spurs are back in action at 12pm (UK time) on Sunday against Burnley – the shortest turnaround possible.
The game was originally due to be played in January, but Arsenal asked for the game to be called off due to a shortage of players – a decision which led to changing of Premier League rules after it emerged they only had one Covid case.
And Conte also appeared the criticise his own club for not questioning the fixture's timing. “If I complain about it, I’m like other coaches in the past,” he said. “You remember when Arteta complained about this type of situation and I said coaches shouldn’t complain.
“Now could be my turn to complain because to play on Thursday night and then again the first game [on Sunday], you could play on Sunday and wait and give us the last game and a bit more rest.
“It’s difficult sometimes to accept Premier League decisions, but if the club accepted it, I have to. A top club have to pay attention to the fixtures.
“Before the game you don’t think this situation can cause you this type of trouble, but afterwards you realise it could affect the result and you are angry and it’s too late.
“You need to be angry before. The club has to pay more attention. If you want to win you have to take care about all the details because the details move the final result."