Antonio Conte spoke on a host of topics in Wednesday’s pre-match press conference, ahead of Chelsa’s unceremoniously-timed Thursday evening match against Burnley. (Better get used to it for next season’s Europa campaign!)
There were no fresh injury news to inform the press of, meaning the usual casualties Danny Drinkwater (groin), Ethan Ampadu (ankle), and David Luiz (everything) remain out of action. However, seeing as Chelsea have to play two matches in four days, Conte stated the obvious in saying he’d have to choose his line-up for tomorrow wisely.
Conte on injuries and his line up: "Tomorrow you will see what is my decision about my starting XI. We have two important games. To play two games in two days and a half is not simple" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 18, 2018
From the topic of team selection stems the issue of Antonio Rudiger’s exclusion from the match-day squad last time out. Unsurprisingly, Conte was quick to dismiss the media narrative that had built up since the defender’s comments after the West Ham draw.
Conte on Rudiger: "First of all, I think that he didn't say anything wrong. I can confirm to you it was a technical and tactical decision. Maybe tomorrow, another player starts on the bench or in the stands." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 18, 2018
Marcos Alonso was picked in the PFA Team of the Year, probably on the strength of his goals-total, but Conte, true to his style, emphasized that there is always room for improvement. After all, Chelsea didn’t exactly play all that great for most of Saturday’s 3-2 win over Southampton.
Full Conte answer to my queston: "I am very happy for him. And for sure the last game he played badly, yeah. I am sure this consideration is for the whole team but last game it was badly" @liam_twomey took my questions so had to think on my feet.— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 18, 2018
Of course, Conte was also asked whether Chelsea would choose to appeal against Alonso’s retrospective 3-match-ban for violent conduct against Southampton. Going by Conte’s answer, and by reports that Alonso hasn’t travelled to Burnley it’s safe to say that the club decided against it.
Conte on Marcos Alosno's FA charge: "The situation is very clear. The FA charged him, until tonight we have the possibility to respond to this situation, I don't want to comment now on this topic. I prefer to wait and to see what happens" #CFC #MCFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 18, 2018
Burnley have performed well above expectations this season, and look to have consolidated 7th place in the league table which guarantees them Europa League football, unless Southampton go on to win the FA Cup (the Premier League’s EL spots normally go to the 5th place team, plus the winners of the FA Cup and League Cup, unless those winners also finish in the top five, in which case the 6th and 7th placed teams qualify).
Sean Dyche and his side deserve massive credit for being the “best of the rest” whilst having precious few resources at their disposal. Conte did paid them appropriate respect for what will be a very tough match tomorrow night.
Conte on Burnley: "They are a really strong team. They are having a fantastic season and it won't be easy to get three points but we have to try." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 18, 2018
Conte on Burnley finishing in the European places: "I think it could be a great achievement for Burnley to finish in the right position to play in the Europa League next season. They are playing very well and won the last five games. Now they have a lot of confidence" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 18, 2018
Conte also spoke but said nothing out of the ordinary about Manchester City’s dominance and resulting title win this season, as well as a couple of words on Michy Batshuayi’s ankle ligament injury, wishing him a speedy recovery in time for the World Cup.
On to Turf Moor!