Chelsea manager Antonio Conte spoke before tomorrow’s clash against Arsenal: the two teams arrives with a different spirit to this really important derby, with the Gunners coming from a home defeat with Watford and nine points under Chelsea in the table, where they sit third with 47 points along with Spurs, and the Blues coming from a good draw with Liverpool away, still leaders with 56 points:
“For sure the result was good but honestly at the end we were a bit disappointed,” the Italian boss said about the recent game against the Reds.
“It´s not easy to get a result in Anfield against a really good team like Liverpool.”
“Arsenal is a great team, for sure they have the chance to fight for the title until the end, now Liverpool game is gone and now it´s important to be focused only on the next game.”
Continuing to speak about tomorrow’s derby, he said:
“We must pay great attention because they are a great team, it will be a very tough game.
“We are nine points clear, but if we lose tomorrow the points are six, we are playing good football, with good intensity. Tomorrow we have a great opportunity to show this.”
Asked if something changes with Wenger on the stands for a four-match-ban, Conte replied:
“I don´t know, I cannot reply this question because for sure I prefer to stay in the touchline to push my players and help them in the key moments of the gas, for me it´s very important and I don´t know about the others.”
According to some rumours, Diego Costa continues to receive offers from China, where the transfer window is still open, and many football and market experts reckon the Spaniard can move to Chinese Super League next summer:
“I don´t know, every week I have a lot of news and speculations about Diego, now the important thing is to be focused in this title race. Diego now is with us, summer is far, and it´s important to be prepared for this title race.
Speaking about the possible signing two Celtic players, Moussa Dembele and Ryan Gordon, who eventually stayed at the Glasgow side, Conte said:
“I’ve never talked with my club about Dembele, we tried [to sign] Gordon because we tried to satisfy Begovic and his requests, he wanted to play every game, but I told him he could leave only if we could find a substitute: Gordon was one of the goalkeepers in our list, we tried but when Celtic told us they couldn’t sell him, it was over.”
“During this transfer window we signed three young players: Ake, Kenedy and Musonda.
“Ake played very well for one year and half in the league, I think now he´s more mature, he can improve with us and help us until the end of the season, the others are two young players but with good quality.”
Asked about Frank Lampard‘s decision to retire from football, Conte claimed:
“It´s a pity when a great player as Frank Lampard decides to end his career, because you lose a fantastic player, the whole world of football is disappointed when a player like him finishes his career, he played thirteen years for Chelsea, he gave a lot to this team, he played more than 100 times for the national team, but every player knows when it’s the right moment to finish his career. I have a lot of respect for him and what he did.”
About Lampard’s future, the Blues boss said:
“I don’t know his thoughts, it’s important to take a bit of time to make the best decision for you. I think Frank Lampard can decide what is the best decision for him.”
Continuing to speak about the game against Arsenal he said:
“I think if we win the game tomorrow for sure is a good hit for us because to improve your situation in the table, take three points and have a 12 points gap from Arsenal is very good. But tomorrow will be a tough game, we have to pay a lot of attention, Arsenal already beat us and it’s possible to repeat this, so we have to have max concentration, to have the same anger and most important of all we have to look at ourselves, not the others, like I always say to my players.
“I watched the game against Watford and sometimes the results don’t say the truth: I think they were a little unlucky, they had many chances to score, I think they are in a good shape, in a good form, the result is strange.
Conte changed his tactical system during the game with Arsenal at Emirates, a decision than then paid, since Chelsea were almost unbeatable after that defeat and had an incredible run of 13 wins in a row:
“It’s not simple, we know all the work we did in the past and what we are doing now, during the game against Arsenal, after ten minutes, I decided to change our system, because in my mind it was possible, we were seven points from Manchester City in that moment and what happened showed a situation can change very quickly and after twenty games the situation is very different, there are fifteen games and now we have to pay great attention.”
Conte was at London Stadium the other night to watch West Ham v Man City, with the Guardiola side beating the Hammers 4-0 still having Agüero on the bench and with a super Gabriel Jesus:
“When I have the chance I like to go to stadia to watch future opponents, I saw a really good team, but we all know Man City’s potential. I think the strange thing is their current situation, I think they have a great squad, a lot of fantastic players in the team, they played very well, Gabriel Jesus and Sterling played very well, all the team played very well. I am not so sure the league is finished, I know that we must pay great attention, there are 15 games to play and I think we must keep the right tension.
“We have to keep our attention very high, I have experience in this, I want to keep our concentration very high, we know that behind us we have a lot of great teams.”