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Conte pays tribute to Wilkins; gives injury update; talks Chelsea’s top four chances

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Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s derby against West Ham

After suffering a devastating loss at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge, the first since 1990, which all but sealed Chelsea’s chances of finishing in the top four, you’d expect Chelsea’s season to be over. However, the Premier League season is a 38 game marathon and as much as we’d like, we’ll have to play all of these games. Hey, at least, it’s still mathematically possible to qualify for the Champions League, that’s something, right?

Chelsea also have an FA Cup semi-final fixture against Southampton on the horizon but for now, we must focus on the more immediate threat. Chelsea’s next match comes in the form of the final London Derby of this Premier League season, as the Blues go up against the 14th placed, West Ham. The Hammers have not won at Stamford Bridge in more than a decade but neither had Spurs and neither had Messi scored against us as Chelsea have been breaking record for all the wrong reasons this season.

In his press conference on Friday, Conte spoke about Chelsea’s injuries, the untimely passing of club legend Ray Wilkins and his own future as a Chelsea head coach, among other things. Let’s get into it.

Derbies are always difficult as they should be, but this derby comes right after Chelsea’s huge game against Spurs, the pain of which loss has not diminished just yet. Not only have Chelsea’s top four chances have gone down the drain, a 27-year record has been broken. Antonio Conte spoke about the significance of this defeat and what we must do, to turn our fortunes around.

Following this, Conte called upon his players to show, “pride, desire and a will to fight” in our chase for the top four, as “our supporters deserve this.” Indeed, we do. Chelsea have been fairly mediocre this season, as compared to our standards, and qualifying for Europa League can be seen as nothing other than a failure.

Conte also provided updates regarding Chelsea’s injury situation. Against Spurs, Chelsea were missing as many as five players as Luiz, Ampadu, Courtois, Pedro and Zappacosta were all missing due to one reason or another. Conte categorically ruled out Luiz and Ampadu for the game against West Ham but said that there might be a chance for the other three to play some part in the upcoming London Derby. Good news!

Let’s move on from one good news to another, depending where your stance is, on Conte’s job as Chelsea’s head coach. Speaking to the press, Conte vehemently denied the claims made by Gianluca Vialli that Conte was “desperate to live” and couldn’t stand that Chelsea “sell or buy players without consulting him.” It’s certainly good to hear our manager reaffirm his commitment for the club, especially ahead of a derby. Hopefully, this is more than just words said for PR purposes.

“It’s not true. Gianluca is a friend but I haven’t talked with him for one year. It is not true.

“It’s very difficult for me because since the start of the season I am listening to a lot of speculation about my future. I listen to a lot of people talking about my future. I have read a lot of speculation about my future since the start of the season, not just now.

“The only truth is that I am committed to this club. I have a contract for this club. I am working very hard for this club. This is the only truth. The other situations are not true.”

-Antonio Conte; Source: Daily Mail

This weekend’s game comes at an emotional time for the club as we’re still coming to grips with the unfortunate news of the passing of the legendary Ray Wilkins, who was much beloved throughout the football world.

One of the nicest guys in football, Ray Wilkins was a Chelsea Player of the Year, Chelsea’s youngest ever club captain and a midfield general in his playing days. In the press conference, Antonio Conte, much like everyone related with Chelsea, offered his condolences and tribute to the Chelsea icon.

As painful as this news is, we must focus, we must fight, we must beat West Ham and continue trying to salvage as much we can from this season because that’s football: ruthless and unforgiving.

Let’s move on from this terrible week on to better and happier things and what better way to do it than beating our city rivals, West Ham.

FORZA!