Antonio Conte has been criticised by Arsenal legend Martin Keown for complaining about Chelsea‘s fixture build-up this season. The Italian was not happy after his side beat Atletico Madrid in a memorable Champions League performance, with a big game against Manchester City coming up this weekend.
Conte believes his players are not getting sufficient time to rest between matches, but Keown says the Blues boss can have no complaints after his side’s easy schedule last season. Chelsea weren’t in Europe last year as Conte was able to field the same team almost every week on his way to Premier League glory.
Hitting back at Conte’s complaints, Keown admits he was baffled by the Chelsea manager’s comments. ‘How on earth can Conte complain? He won the league last season from a blank piece of paper in terms of extra fixtures in Europe,’ Keown wrote in the Daily Mail. ‘After profiting from their scarcity of games, Conte cannot take issue with a problem caused directly by his own success. ‘Of course no-one likes playing their rivals close to Champions League games. But there are so many good teams in the Premier League now that you cannot manipulate the fixtures.
‘It would be one thing complaining if Chelsea had to go up to the Etihad on Saturday but they play at Stamford Bridge! ‘As a player, I would sooner have a home game after a trip to Europe. City may have had an extra day’s preparation but Chelsea have home advantage. ‘To moan about fixtures actually detracts from the fact Chelsea go into this game in really good shape. That winner with the last kick of the game will have lifted and bonded the group.’
Chelsea News: Luiz blames injury for error
Chelsea defender David Luiz has explained an injury was to cause for him giving a penalty away against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last night.
“I didn’t have the power to stop him because of my injury and I pushed his shirt,” Luiz said on Chelsea’s website.
“In the rules that’s a penalty but if the referee gives that one, he has to give many more.
“The performance of the team was amazing.
“We played a great game and controlled it from the first minute. It’s not easy to play against Atletico, one of the best teams in the Champions League from the last few years.
“They know how to play against everybody. I was happy with the performance of the team and in the end we got what we deserved.”
Paul Merson believes Chelsea will be happy with a draw against Manchester City in the Premier League this weekend.
The former Arsenal star told Sky Sports: “I cannot separate these two sides so I’m going for a 1-1 draw. It should be a great game.
“Chelsea’s win over Atletico Madrid on Wednesday was one of the best performances I’ve seen away from home in Europe for a long time.
“This is another big game for Chelsea though.
“We expect United to win at home to Palace and that would mean Chelsea would be six points behind them before kick-off at Stamford Bridge.
“I know it’s still early in the season but that is still a lot of points.
“Because of that I think both sides being happy with a draw.”
Eden Hazard can be a ‘cheat’ player for Chelsea like Cristiano Ronaldo was for Manchester United, according to Rio Ferdinand.
“We asked before the game, can he produce at this level?” he said on BT Sport after last night’s match.
“Tonight he gave us an answer. In a just under 90 minute cameo I thought he was fantastic in everything he done.
“He was a threat, especially through the middle areas. This guy gives you hope, he’s a player that in top teams you normally get one player who’s allowed to ‘cheat’.
“He’s that guy you would give that licence to with what he can do if you give him as much energy as possible in the attacking third. Restrict the amount of time he has to defend.
“We done that with Ronaldo at in our team because of what he could produce at the other end.
“You want him to be at his best and his most efficient.
“That means if you can save him energy in running back and let other people put in a bit of an extra shift for him.”