LONDON: Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has questioned the scheduling of the side’s Premier League match against Manchester City on Saturday, saying his players may not have enough time to recover from their Champions League win at Atletico Madrid.
Michy Batshuayi’s injury time winner in the Spanish capital on Wednesday secured a 2-1 victory and strengthened Chelsea’s position at the top of Group C standings, but Conte instead chose to focus on his team’s congested fixture list.
The Italian feels the Premier League champions are at a disadvantage ahead of their crucial encounter with table-topping City, who had an extra day’s rest after their 2-0 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the same competition on Tuesday.
“Honestly, in this case we are a bit penalised, “Conte told reporters. “I think it’s very important before taking a decision like this to analyse the different situations of the teams. Don’t forget, Manchester City played yesterday at home. We played tonight, away. For sure, we will return to London around 4 a.m. To have only one day to prepare for this type of game which is not right.
He added: “Above all because, now, it’s an international break. Honestly, I’m very surprised to see that this game we have to play on Saturday, not on Sunday.”
The Italian, who led Chelsea to victories in both league games against City last season, said he would make a late call on the fitness levels of several players ahead of the encounter.
“Maybe I’ll wait until the end, one or two hours before we play. I need to speak to my players to understand very well their physical condition,” he added.
City midfielder Ilkay Guendogan, meanwhile, expects his team’s title credentials to be thoroughly tested at Stamford Bridge.
“It’s a huge game and it’s away, so it’s even more difficult, but we feel ready,” said the 26-year-old Germany international. “If you ask the manager, there is always something to improve but we know that we are a great team, we have great players and it’s just up to us to prove that every fourth day.”
Pep Guardiola’s City have made an unbeaten start to the season, netting 22 goals and conceding just three in six league games.