It's been two weeks since Chelsea last kicked a ball on a pitch, and since then a few remarkable moments took the spotlight. The arrivals of full back Marcos Alonso and centre back/prodigal son David Luiz to the Bridge have only raised our anticipation to see how we will fare as we return from the international break to club football.
In our first match after the break, Chelsea will take the stage against Swansea City at their home ground. Last season, our meetings against the Swans proved to be tough challenges. Conte wants the team to keep their focus on themselves and extend the early season winning streak.
"At this moment we must focus only on our game. We know against Swansea it will be very tough. We face a team well-organised with a good manager. It’s important to look at ourselves and not the others."
As for our squad's fitness, there are good news in this front as all of our first team players took part in full training - including the ones who defended their national teams over the last couple of weeks.
"Today we had the first training [this week] with all the players, because Willian arrived after training yesterday, but he had the possibility to have the same training with the assistant coach. I am happy because I saw all the players with good fitness. The players that remained in Cobham worked very hard, and the players that came back are fit."
At the last day of the summer transfer window, Chelsea brought to the fold two new players to their defence in David Luiz and Marcos Alonso. Although both players stayed at Cobham to partake in training sessions during the break, Conte doesn't believe that his new players are ready to start matches at the moment.
"I think the new players need a bit of time to work with a new method, a new philosophy, a new idea of football and it’s important to give them a bit of time. For this reason their chance of playing from the start is not high."
The arrival of Luiz renewed the questions over future changes in our plans. During preseason, Conte experimented various tactics with Chelsea, ultimately settling on the 4-1-4-1/4-3-3 that seemed to best fit our current squad.
The boss pointed out that Chelsea could play a back-three defence in the future now that we have Luiz available, although he wouldn't replicate his famous 3-5-2 from his previous spells due to our players' characteristics.
"It can be an opportunity, a solution, yeah. It can happen in the future. This squad can play with 3-4-3, not 3-5-2 like the Italy national team or Juventus, because of the characteristics of the players."
On Luiz, Conte delved further on explaining the reasons behind his acquisition, as well as what he sees in the future for the 29-year-old player.
"We bought David Luiz because we needed a centre-back. I know he played sometimes in midfield before but in my mind now there isn’t this idea. He has to work with us as a centre-back."
"A great defender must be able to play football and defend, but the coach must improve his players. This is the most important thing for me, not only to win, lose or draw – to improve your players, to work on their weaknesses, and make the player stronger."
"David has great personality, great technique, and he likes to play. I like a defender who likes to play football. I know David can improve in defensive situations. Every player until the end of their career can improve. I say that from my experience as a footballer."
"David Luiz is 29, a fantastic age for him to become one of the best defenders in the world. I am seeing great commitment from him. He wanted to play for Chelsea and it’s a great opportunity for him and for us to improve. I am very happy he is a here. He is a good guy, a positive guy for the changing room, and I’m pleased with it."
And in an answer to how he and his players felt about missing the Champions League, Conte reminded everyone that returning to the continental competition is one of our final objectives for the season.
"The players think the same as me – we would prefer to play the Champions League. It’s a fantastic tournament and this year we are not in it. On Tuesday and Wednesday, when we watch it on television, it’s important for us to understand that next year we must be there.
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC