Marcos Alonso says Chelsea must not lose again as champions cling to title hopes

17 October 2017 03:41

Marcos Alonso says Chelsea cannot afford to lose any more games if they are to retain the Premier League title.

The Blues, who play Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday night, lost 2-1 at bottom club Crystal Palace last Saturday.

It was a second successive defeat following the 1-0 loss to Manchester City and left Chelsea nine points adrift of the leaders after eight games.

Chelsea responded from a 10th-placed finish in 2015-16 to win the title in Antonio Conte’s first season as head coach, largely due to a 13-match winning run which followed September losses to Liverpool and Arsenal.

Alonso reckons an even more impressive run is required this season.

“We’ve lost a lot of points already. We cannot lose any more games,” the Spanish defender said.

“It’ll obviously be very hard. There are teams playing very good football and there so many games still to come.

“So we have to think game by game. We will focus now on the Champions League, and an important game, and then have time to get ready for Watford and the Premier League (on Saturday).”

Chelsea have fared better in the Champions League and top Group C after a 6-0 win over Qarabag and a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid.

Victory against Roma would give confidence of progression to the knockout stages as group winners, ahead of the October 31 return match in Italy.

Chelsea hope to have striker Alvaro Morata back from a hamstring problem. Michy Batshuayi was ineffective against Palace and is likely to make way.

Conte said: “I could take a risk on Saturday to force (Morata) to play against Crystal Palace, but I’m not so stupid.

“Tomorrow I’m not taking a risk if I decide for Morata to play.”

Midfielders N’Golo Kante (hamstring) and Danny Drinkwater (calf) are out and right wing-back Victor Moses limped off against Palace with a hamstring injury.

Conte, though, insists it is the fixture schedule, rather than his demands, which have resulted in the injuries. Although he conceded he would ideally rotate more often.

Antonio Conte during a training session
(Steven Paston/PA)

“The problem is we are playing always the same players,” the Italian said. “And also we have players in our team who are not used to playing three games in a week. Kante, it’s the first time. For Moses, the first time.

“For Morata, it’s the first time to play regularly for his team. For Alonso it’s the same.

“When you have a lot of games, you need to rotate players. If this is not possible, I have to take risks.

“For example, against Manchester City: Morata was injured after 20 minutes. But if I hadn’t put Morata in the starting XI, you’d have told me I’m crazy. Sometimes the players need to rest.”

Conte admitted the Blues had tried to sign Roma’s Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan in the past.

Conte added: “Yes, we tried to buy him. (But) it’s not right to speak about him. For me, one of the best midfielders. But he’s an opponent.”

Source: By PA Sport Staff


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