Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

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Fixture schedule has left us disadvantaged, claims Chelsea boss Conte

Chelsea have been dealt an unfair hand by schedule makers in comparison to Premier League leaders Manchester City, according to boss Antonio Conte.

The Blues won their fourth successive league game by defeating West Brom 4-0 at The Hawthorns on Saturday, but still trail Pep Guardiola's City by nine points after they beat Leicester to make it 16 wins on the bounce in all competitions.

One of those came at Stamford Bridge in late September, three days after the Blues had beaten Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, and four days on from City's win, at home, against Shakhtar Donetsk in the same competition.

It is a game that could prove pivotal in the title race and the circumstances surrounding are grating with Conte, who addressed it after Chelsea's demolition of the Baggies.

"For sure it was a pity to play against Manchester City after only two days (rest) when we played against Atletico Madrid away," he said.

"We came back at five o'clock in the morning on Thursday and we played on Saturday against Manchester City. For this reason, I think sometimes whoever prepares this type of fixtures must pay more attention and to give all the teams the same possibility.

"I think in the game against Manchester City one team was favourite and it was a pity because then you can see that you can stay very close - if you win against Manchester City, the distance is not nine points."

Conte felt it was a particularly relevant point prior to a midweek trip to Azerbaijan when his team face Qarabag on Wednesday evening, three days before travelling to Anfield to face Liverpool.

Both the Reds and City are in Champions League action on the Tuesday and Conte bemoaned when the fixtures have been assigned before their big Premier League contests.

"For sure who prepares these fixtures must pay great attention," he added.

"Don't forget now we have another problem because we are going to play at Qarabag on Wednesday and then we go back to London at five, six o'clock, but we have another great game against Liverpool on Saturday. Is it normal, this? I don't think.

"If someone wants more balance in this league I think they must pay greater attention before to prepare the fixtures."

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