Antonio Conte knows tomorrow clash against Manchester City will be very tough, but it could be easier for Chelsea after Pep Guardiola lost two important players, Benjamin Mendy – who suffered an ACL injury – and Sergio Aguero, who was involved in a car crash in Amsterdam last night, where he supposedly broke two ribs.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of the game, Conte was immediately asked if this could be an advantage for his team: “First of all I am sorry for the situation, – the Italian manager replied – I hope he’s feeling good, usually these situations are not good, so I hope he’s well.”
Asked if, in his opinion, wasn’t too much to travel to Holland a couple of days before an important game like the Stamford Bridge one, Conte said: “It was a day off, but I prefer to talk about my players, there is a lack of respect to judge.
“Honestly I am not worried, I think my players try to make the best decision, it’s important to understand when there is the room to travel, to go to see a game or other situations. I was a player and when you have a day off you have to take the responsibility to take the best decision for yourself and the club.
“I like to give them responsibilities, they are not kids, they are men and they got families, they got kids, and I guess is right to let them to take the best decisions”.
David Luiz is suspended and will miss the Man City clash: “David is a very important player for us, for sure it’s a big loss, but I guess Christensen is doing really well, he’s young but he’s got the maturity and experience to play with us.”
The Italian manager was also questioned if the Brazilian needs to improve his discipline: “I think he’s not a player that is used to take a red card. I think he’s ok and it’s enough”.
Conte then spoke about tomorrow’s rivals: “We know really well Guadiola’s teams, they like possessions and got many chances to score, I think he’s trying to create his squad with a lot of creative, technical players, to try to bring his idea on the pitch.
“Man City is a really good team, but also last season it was the same. I guess this season they improved a lot with good signings on the transfer market. I think we prepared the game in just one day, today, and we know it won’t be easy tomorrow.
The press seem really focused on the two Manchester teams, City and United, and it’s not giving the right credit to Chelsea, who are the current champions, for the title race: “Honestly I think the two Manchester teams are doing very well, – Conte said – we know last season they were already good and this season they improved a lot with good signings, they signed really good players and they were also able to keep all the players. I am not surprised, it’s normal the press speak about them”.
Eden Hazard was back To play 90 minutes against Atletico, a game where he was one of the best men on the pitch: “For us he’s an important player, last season he played very well and performed as a top player. I think we managed his recovery very well, respecting the right time, now he is fit, he played very well with Atletico Madrid”.
Conte also hailed Alvaro Morata, who started really well this Chelsea experience: “I am not surprised because I know Alvaro very well, for sure to arrive and play in this league it’s not simple, I think you need time to adapt and he did it very well. I am happy and I hope he continues like this, for him it’s the first chance to play regularly as a number 9, he’s got this responsibility, he is coping with the pressure and he’s playing very well.”
Conte then spoke again about tomorrow’s clash: “I think every coach must have an own style of football, for sure I got a lot of respect for Pep, he’s the best. I like to watch his games, don’t forget that every coach tries every day to take new informations and ideas, and then apply them with the staff.
” I don’t know, don’t forget this is the last game of 7 in 21 days, I think it will be a really tough game, it wont’ be easy to make decisions tomorrow because in my eyes there is the performance against Atletico and every player performed very well.
“In my opinion, to play this kind of games you need to rest more, there are just two days between the games, but we are excited to play this game against Man City.
“I think if Eden was able to play one game against Atletico it means he’s ready to play with City. I guess it was a really good performance, we showed a great personality, great maturity, it’s not easy to play against them, it’s not easy to come back after they went 1/0 up.
“Games like the one against Atletico surely increase our confidence, for us it’s a really important game, they’ve a lot of confidence, I am sure our fans will push us from the start until the end, their support will be very important tomorrow. When you have these players is more simple to play very close and find combinations, so to play very well”.
Asked about his choices in the midfield, he claimed: “You must consider game by game to consider all the situations, you have to consider which teams are you facing: strong, medium, relegation battle etc. I think now Bakayoko is fit and playing very well, he’s a lot of room for improvement, he has to improve some situations during the game.
“Morata is fit, he is in contention: only Drinkwater is out, all the other ones are in contention for the game”.
Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti was sacked by Bayer Munich yesterday. “It’s a pity for Carlo, – Conte added – Also because I know him very well and everyone knows his value, he’s one of the best coaches in the world. You know very well that our job is like this, in our job results are very important, and when you don’t get them, you risk, even if you are doing a good job. The result is a part of our job, I think we stay here to talk about this, but everything depends on the result”.
“I spoke to him in Singapore and he was happy to work with those players. I don;t know if he will be back in the Premier LEague, I think now he will stop for this season, when you are managing of a great team you spend a lot of energies mentally and pshically, so if you can have time for yourself, you spend it to recharge the batteries”.