• Chelsea’s Conte takes aim at fixture organizers


    WEST BROMWICH, UK: Antonio Conte criticised football’s fixture planners as he prepares his side for a manic month in the wake of their 4-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

    Conte’s side eased to victory at The Hawthorns but Conte is already warning his players they face their biggest game of the season at Azerbaijan side FK Qarabag in the Champions League on Wednesday.

    The win against West Brom, which included two goals from Eden Hazard, was the first of nine games in a month in all competitions for the Blues.

    Conte is worried about a repeat of the defeat to Manchester City in September, three days after a Champions League game in Spain.

    “It was a pity to play against Manchester City only two days after we played Atletico Madrid away,” he said.

    “We came back at 5:00 am on Thursday and played on Saturday against Manchester City.

    “Sometimes, the people who prepare these type of fixtures must pay more attention to give every team the same possibility.

    “I think against Manchester City they were favorites and we stayed very close but if we won against Manchester City the distance is not nine points.

    “Now we have another problem. We play Qarabag on Wednesday, we get back to London at 5:00 am then we have another big game against Liverpool on Saturday.

    “Is this normal? I don’t think so. If someone wants more balance in this league they must pay greater attention to preparing the fixtures.”

    Chelsea head for Qarabag knowing victory will take them into the knockout phase despite back-to-back slip-ups against Roma.

    “It was very important for us to start this very busy period with a good win, especially against West Brom because last season we struggled a lot in both games,” said Conte.

    “Today the game became easy because we started very well with great concentration and focus.

    “This (Qarabag) will be the most important game of the season because we have a possibility with a win to go through to the next round of the Champions League, so to start our path in this way was very positive.”

    Defeat for West Brom left Tony Pulis fighting to save his job after just two wins in his last 21 Premier League games dating back to last season.

    The Welshman did little to defend his position after the game.



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