Conte feels English teams need help from fixture schedulers to compete in Europe

22 November 2017 09:54

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte believes the Premier League fixture schedulers must make allowances for European games if English clubs are to be successful in the Champions League again.

The Blues, European champions in 2012, are the most recent Premier League side to reach the competition's final and will bid to claim a knockout place by beating Qarabag in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

But the proximity of Saturday's clash at Liverpool is also on Conte's mind ahead of the Group C clash.

Chelsea can ill afford to drop points at Anfield as their deficit to Manchester City is nine points after 12 games.

Conte said: "If you ask me if we're ready to catch up Manchester City, whoever prepares the fixtures must try to change something. I think this is the best way for English football.

"I'm talking for all the teams who are playing in the Champions League, not just for Chelsea.

"For a lot of time, there isn't an English team playing a final in the Champions League. Why (is) this?

"The teams are very strong and every team has the possibility to go through to the path to the Champions League (final).

"I don't like to find excuses or alibis, but this is the reality. Sometimes I think it's right to give respect for our job."

Conte's complaint is familiar. It is one made regularly by Jose Mourinho, Chelsea's former boss who is now at Manchester United.

Baku is four hours ahead of London, but Chelsea are staying on Greenwich Mean Time to limit the effects of jet lag on their longest European journey. It is almost 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometres) between London and Baku.

The Blues expect to return to London at around 4am on Thursday.

The Liverpool clash has been selected by broadcaster BT Sport for the 5.30pm slot. BT is also showing the Qarabag tie.

Liverpool, who play Sevilla on Tuesday night, have an additional day's recovery time.

The Blues lost to City following their win at Atletico Madrid in September, when Conte also pointed out the inconsistency as City had played at home 24 hours earlier.

"I'm a bit surprised because, this season, it's the second time," Conte said.

Had Chelsea beaten City, they would have been three points behind Pep Guardiola's men. As it transpired, the Blues also lost to Crystal Palace, making a successful title defence seem unlikely.

Chelsea began their European campaign with a 6-0 win over Qarabag, who have since pushed Roma close and drawn twice with Atletico.

The Blues, meanwhile, have lost the lead of Group C to Roma following a draw at Stamford Bridge and a 3-0 defeat in Italy.

Conte has no fresh injuries and is likely to rotate his options.

David Luiz could return in defence after he lost his place to Andreas Christensen following the loss at Roma.

Conte added: "I trust in all my players."

Source: PA