Another big test awaits the Blues tomorrow and Antonio Conte says he and his players are looking forward to the challenge Manchester City will pose.
Though he would rather have had more time to prepare for this weekend’s standout Premier League fixture, Conte explained at his press conference at Cobham this afternoon that it is a game to be relished, especially as both teams are in such good form.
The boss also answered questions on some of his players, one of Man City’s in the news today, and he later provided positive news on the injury front, too, with no fresh concerns after Wednesday’s fine win.
Next up are the team currently top of the table.
‘This is the last game of seven games in 21 days,’ Conte pointed out. ‘As you know very well Man City is a really good team, but last season was the same. This season they improved a lot with good signings.
‘They started very well, they are in a great moment and they have a lot of confidence. For sure we have to pay great attention.
‘We have only prepared the game in one day, today, and we have tried to prepare for it in the right way. It will not be easy to make decisions tomorrow. In my eyes is the last performance against Atletico Madrid. Every single player performed very well in this game. I have to check the physical condition of every single player and then make the best decision.
‘To play a massive game helps you recover very well and quickly, because every single player wants to play, and also because this game is only two days after the last game. We are ready for this massive game. We are excited to play.
‘Winning against Atletico Madrid increases our confidence,’ Conte added. ‘It makes you stronger.
‘Now it is important to be focused on the next game. We are playing at home, for sure our fans will try to push us from the start until the end. Tomorrow their support will be very important.’
Conte spoke happily about the fine link-up play on display between Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata on Wednesday, and said their on-field relationship is part down to their natural ability, and part their work together on the training ground. Morata is responding well to the pressures of being a first-choice number nine for the first time in his senior career, Conte added, while Hazard’s performance in Madrid proved he was ready to play at a high level with ‘continuity’.
‘Last season he had an important season, he played very well, he performed like a top player. Now we managed his recovery very well. We respected the right time before giving him the responsibility to play a big game from the start.
‘If he was able to play one game like the last game against Atletico Madrid, it means he is ready now to play with continuity. Then, I have to try to make the best decision for the team, not only a single player.’
Conte indicated Andreas Christensen is likely to start again in the suspended David Luiz’s absence, and stressed how happy he has been with the Dane’s performances so far this term.
The boss was also asked about Sergio Aguero - who is expected to miss tomorrow’s game because of an injury sustained abroad - and whether he was comfortable letting his players travel when they have days off.
‘First of all I am sorry for this situation and I hope that his feeling is good,’ Conte said of the Argentinean striker. ‘When you have an accident it’s not good, but I think and I hope he is well.
‘The players are not kids, they are men, they have families, children,’ Conte continued.
‘I like to give them responsibility, and then they must make the best decision for themselves, for the team, for the club, for everyone.
‘Honestly I am not worried because I have players who try to make the best decision. It’s important to understand when there is the room to travel, to go to see a game or other situations. I was a player and when you have your day off, you must take your own responsibility.’