The Blues return to Premier League action tonight with the visit of West Bromwich Albion to Stamford Bridge, and Antonio Conte believes his players are prepared to give their all in an important period ahead.
A free midweek and consecutive Monday night fixtures meant Conte was able to give his squad three days off following the disappointing result at Watford a week ago, and he knows that was a rare opportunity for them to take their minds off football during what has been an incredibly busy spell.
‘To have a bit of rest after a busy period, I think it was important,’ said the Italian, who has spent the past three days working with the players again at Cobham as we gear up for three home games in three separate competitions between now and next Tuesday.
‘It was important for them to be with their families and to spend more time for themselves – to have the opportunity to breathe and relax.
‘I think it is the same for the coach also, when you have to prepare a game every two days. For sure, for us we don’t need to worry about the physical situation, but I think that we can recover after mental fatigue.’
Conte has also discussed the kind of work he likes to do with his players on the training ground, explaning how for much of the campaign it has mainly been about game preparation.
‘When you play every two or three days it is impossible to work on the physical aspects, and this season we are not working on that,’ he said. ‘But if I have time to work with the players – a whole week – you try to start the week with a physical session and then in the midweek, you start to look at the tactical work and prepare for the game.
‘You understand that only through work can you reach a fantastic target, like we did last season. Our work last season allowed us to reach an incredible target.
‘Now the most important thing is to be focused and to work to try to give the best this season – from me, from the players and from everyone here.
‘I think that we are ready to face the game against West Brom, and then to play against Hull City, and then Barcelona. We must be ready to play three games in eight days, and I think we are ready.’
Conte will be hoping to have Andreas Christensen available for selection tonight after he missed the last two matches with a hamstring strain. He knows the young Dane’s absence was not the sole reason for us conceding seven goals in those two games, but he is also aware of the 21-year-old’s growing stature as the season has progressed.
‘Andreas Christensen, for sure is an important player for us,’ he said. ‘It’s right to look at the stats, but we have to take them in the right way. Christensen is playing a fantastic season. I don’t know what happened in the last two games, because it has happened that Christensen didn’t play and we didn’t concede a goal in the past, but in the last two games, we conceded seven goals.’