Antonio Conte has said we will need to keep the balance throughout the team both from an attacking and defensive perspective if we are to win at Manchester City on Sunday.
The Blues will be aiming to boost our hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League by securing a victory at the Etihad, having been the last visiting side to win there in December 2016.
Addressing the media at Cobham this afternoon, Conte said Ethan Ampadu has joined David Luiz and Tiemoue Bakayoko on the injured list, but there was more positive news regarding Ross Barkley, who hasn’t played since the end of January.
‘Ross Barkley trained with us this week and now he’s recovered from his injury,’ said Conte. ‘He will come with us and then I will decide if I find a place on the bench for him, or if he will be in the stand for another week.’
With heavy snow falling across the country this week, the Blues boss discussed the impact conditions have had on training in the build-up to Sunday’s match.
‘For sure, the training sessions in this situation aren’t simple,’ he said. ‘It’s not simple to have the pitch in perfect condition but despite this we’ve tried to work well and prepare for the game against City in the same way as last week.’
Last season we completed a league double over City, with the first of those two victories coming at the Etihad as we fought back from 1-0 down to win 3-1, and Conte explained what we will need to do in order to come out on top on Sunday.
‘When you play against this type of team, who are very strong, you must have a tactical plan in your mind to stop them, otherwise you risk losing in a bad way,’ he said.
‘It’s very difficult but at the same time we have to try to find if there are weaknesses in their team and work on exploiting them. It’s not simple to find them in this team but we have to try to find the best way to play this game against them.
‘The most important thing in every game is to have a tactical plan offensively and defensively, you must be focused on your team. It will be very important for us not to lose that balance. In my mind, if we want to win we must have great balance in every moment of the game.’
Pep Guardiola’s side were in action last night, winning 3-0 away at Arsenal, and Conte was asked about how City have improved since last season.
‘I think last season Man City were always a fantastic team but after one season the manager tried to improve the quality of the starting 11 and to improve the quality of his squad, this is the result,’ he said.
‘I think we must have great admiration for this team because they are having a fantastic path this season.
‘Every club has to understand their targets. Every team must have their own target before the season and try to reach this target. For every team it can be different.
‘For us in this moment we have to try to get a place in the Champions League and it won’t be easy because there are many teams who are very strong, but we must be ready to fight.'
Conte was asked if he felt the fact our opponents had played last night, as well as being involved in the League Cup final last Sunday, gave us an advantage.
‘At this moment, to see an advantage against a team like them is very difficult but we have to prepare for the game in the right way, hope to have our players in good form and try to fight for a good result,’ said the Italian. ‘At this moment they seem unstoppable.’
Alvaro Morata led the line at Old Trafford last week and was unlucky not to score, hitting the bar early on before having a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside in the second half. It was the Spaniard’s first start since January.
‘He has to work to recover the best form after an injury in his back,’ said the Blues boss.
‘He must have patience, we must have patience but the most important thing is for him to work.’