Antonio Conte wants to conclude what he describes as a ‘strange week’ with a positive result at Anfield tomorrow, and he has been boosted by the return to fitness of Victor Moses.
The boss was speaking to the media at Cobham this afternoon before travelling to a third consecutive away game. Preparations for Anfield have been far from ideal after the midweek trek to Azerbaijan, a point Conte reiterated today, but he was also keen to keep his players concentrated on the job in hand.
‘Today we had a good training session,’ he reported. ‘We tried to prepare for the game very well, but to have only one day to prepare for a big game, and especially to have only one day to rest, is not right, not only for Chelsea, but for all the teams.
‘This was an intense week for us. At the same time, it’s right to not find an alibi, or excuses, and to try and play a good game against a really strong team.
‘This week was a strange week but we must be focused on a big game. We want to play well and have a good result.’
Conte reported that on the way back from Baku, the team plane needed two attempts to land because of high winds, and he praised the captain for getting everyone back to London safely. He also said he has spoken to the club about the fixture scheduling, and the fact he believes everyone should have the same amount of time to recover.
Turning his attention to this weekend’s big game, Conte discussed Moses’s return to fitness.
‘His condition is good. For sure he needs a bit of time to recover the best form. Tomorrow he is in our squad. I think I want to put him on the bench, and then to decide if there is the necessity to put him on or not.
‘I am very happy because now he is fine, but he needs a bit of time to find the best physical condition.’
Conte expects a stern test from Liverpool, who have won their past three home games 3-0. He singled out their attacking talent as their best quality, and said manager Jurgen Klopp, who shares his passion on the touchline, has created a ‘good identity’ on Merseyside. Mohamed Salah, the league’s top scorer, is certainly one to watch.
‘I know him very well. He played in Italy for many years. He is a good player, very dangerous, he is a technical player but at the same time he’s very fast, very good at one v ones, and he’s good at finishing.
‘We must pay great attention, but not only to him, but also to Mane, Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge. They have great potential.’
Conte, now clean-shaven after his daughter said his beard made him look older, will be hoping Cesc Fabregas can continue racking up the assists. The Spaniard has started all but two leagues games this term.
‘Last season maybe he didn’t deserve to start, but now he deserves to play regularly,’ Conte noted.
‘At the same time I understand he needs a bit of rest because he is playing every game. Now I have four midfielders in good form and for sure I need to have rotation.
‘I am very happy because Cesc is showing great commitment in two faces, with the ball and without the ball. Also, when we play with three midfielders, he is more free offensively.’
The Blues are going for Premier League victory number five in a row, and Conte concluded his conference by talking about one of the reasons for our fine form.
‘To have a good balance is very important for my team. We need to work more on this aspect, because this season we have had ups and downs, but now we are trying to find different solutions compared to last season.
‘This is a good moment for us and we have to continue in this way.’