Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte won't stop Chelsea players' Christmas party

Antonio Conte will trust the professionalism of his Chelsea players if they decide to organise a Christmas party.

The Blues head into the festive period three points clear at the top of the Premier League having won their past nine league outings and travel to bottom side Sunderland on Wednesday night.

The trip to the Stadium of Light is Chelsea's first in a run of five fixtures in 21 days as head coach Conte goes into the Christmas period without a break for the first time in his career.

It has become standard practice for most football clubs to allow their players to let their hair down for a Christmas get together.

While Conte, who took charge at Stamford Bridge in the summer, is not going to stand in the way of his squad, the Italian believes he can put faith in their eagerness for success to override an infamous night out.

"I'm sure I have great professionals in my players," he said.

"In this case, I don't think a coach or a manager can say: 'Do this' or 'Don't do this'. I have great professionals and I know they will have the better attitude and behaviours in this situation.

"I must be honest, I'd prefer they stayed at home and celebrated with the family. Not have a great party. On the 26th we play the game.

"We are preparing to celebrate with our families during the week before Christmas, to stay together with our children, with our families."

The club will host a party for the players' children and Conte is keen for the Christmas period to be more about his squad spending time with their families.

"I think that Christmas is a particular day, and the best thing is to stay with your family," he said.

"It's important to celebrate Christmas, yes, in the right way.

"Because, then, the next day we will play against Bournemouth, a tough game. But I think that Christmas is right to celebrate with your family."

Conte may want his players to err on the side of caution with Christmas parties, but he will not stop them enjoying a solitary beer after a game.

Diego Costa was filmed by team-mate David Luiz having a drink after his match-winning performance in the 1-0 victory at West Brom on Sunday - and Conte has no problem with that.

"After the game, for rehydration, you can drink Coca-Cola, one beer," he added.

"It's good for recovery. But one. Not a lot. It's good. After you finish the game, quickly, not an hour after the end. I think a glass of wine, one, is good. Is good, yes. One glass of red wine is good."

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