Antonio Conte

Conte on Chelsea comeback: “We have the attitude”

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Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi has been waiting for a star turn for some time, and now that it’s arrived he’s sounded like an Antonio Conte disciple.

“Starting on the bench is a difficult moment for me but I stay focused every day to work hard and train hard,” Batshuayi said. “Today I did my job and scored two goals.”

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Watford ]

Sure did. Batshuayi replaced an Alvaro Morata who perhaps got a bit caught up in the snippy side of a chippy 4-2 win over visiting Watford on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

The victory relieved some pressure from Antonio Conte, who admitted in the run up to the game that he felt it. After the win?

“My players showed me that we have the attitude to fight and change the situation and get a different result. It was very important. It is not simple because we are facing difficult situations but the spirit and commitment is right. I’m satisfied for the performance.”

It was a heck of a morning for Batshuayi, who took two of his chances and wasn’t put off by several moments where he could’ve done something special but failed to find the right footing.

As for Conte, he’ll feel better ahead of a League Cup visit from Everton and a league trip to Bournemouth.

Conte feels pressure, but “most important thing is to work”

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Chelsea has sputtered a bit in its bid to repeat as Premier League champions, though this isn’t quite “stop me if you’ve heard this one before.”

The Blues sit fifth in the Premier League table with 13 points, nine behind leaders Manchester City, and tossed away a 2-0 lead before rallying to draw Roma at midweek.

The Blues host fourth-placed Watford to kick off Saturday’s Premier League action at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

[ MORE: West Ham 0-3 Brighton ]

And while fans are frustrated with the plan, Chelsea was in 15th at the end of October during Jose Mourinho’s ill-fated follow-up to the 2014-15 Premier League title.

Still, manager Antonio Conte feels their pain, although he’s satisfied with the effort. From Chelsea’s official site:

“Do I feel the pressure? Every manager feels pressure, but I try to give all of myself into my job, so I’m happy when I go home because I know in every moment I give all of myself for the fans, the players and the club. In football you know anything can happen, but the most important thing is to work.”

Chelsea may not look as good as Man City or Manchester United, but is still well-positioned to finish amongst the leaders and is leading a very difficult UCL group with Roma and Atletico Madrid. Things are fine, but the gossip storm just won’t leave Conte and his future at Chelsea alone (Thanks, Italian press).

Chelsea facing lineup nightmare as they limp into Champions League play

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With the 2017-18 campaign just two months old, Chelsea has been rocked by injuries, potentially ruining Antonio Conte‘s ability to piece together his famed 3-5-2 lineup that saw the Blues storm to the Premier League title last season.

N'Golo Kante‘s absence thanks to a hamstring injury has seen his midfield torn apart at times, including against lowly Crystal Palace as Chelsea slumped to defeat to the then-pointless Eagles. Fellow former Fox Danny Drinkwater also sits, having yet to make his Chelsea debut with a calf injury vexing the England international thus far.

Wing-back Victor Moses, who has become a star at a position nobody could have seen him excelling at, is also sidelined with a bum hamstring and must be replaced. The Italian boss could call in deadline day signing Davide Zappacosta to fill the role, but it’s not that simple.

[ WRAP: A complete rundown of Tuesday’s Champions League action ]

Complicating matters greatly, Conte has the opposite situation to navigate along his back line. A pair of poor performances in league play has his defense suddenly under fire, thanks to the good form of his replacements who are pushing for more time on the field. With both Antonio Rudiger and young Andreas Christensen putting in solid performances when called upon, there is suddenly increasing chatter that they should be given starts ahead of Gary Cahill, David Luiz, and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Thankfully for Conte, he can once again call upon the services of talisman striker Alvaro Morata, not worrying about the poor form of Michy Batshuayi who had such a bright start to the season.

[ PREVIEW: A full look at Wednesday’s Champions League slate ]

So, his options are thus: he could either call in Davide Zappacosta to fill Victor Moses’s role without changing the base 3-5-2 with Morata and Pedro up high, leaving Rudiger and Christensen on the bench while hoping that Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas can manage in midfield better than against Crystal Palace. Or, he could shuffle the deck completely and shift to another formation.

Another option presented is a 3-4-3, with Morata by himself in the middle flanked by Willian and Pedro, leaving the central midfield pairing even more exposed. However, that option allows the possibility of patching that midfield by pushing David Luiz or even Rudiger forward, allowing another defender to see the field likely in place of Fabregas. That puts more creative duties on Bakayoko’s plate, or sees the Frenchman fall to the bench, although swapping the defensive midfielder for a central defender seems to have little benefit.

These lineup choices are of the utmost importance as Chelsea meets AS Roma in Champions League play on Wednesday, because a victory would give them a perfect nine points out of nine, leaving them with tons of wiggle-room with three matches remaining. That five-point cushion would present the Blues with the ability to rotate the squad moving forward, a luxury so desperately needed with the injury problems and questions to sort out at the back. That could be invaluable not only to Chelsea’s Champions League standing but also their increasingly questionable Premier League health as the Manchester clubs continue to show stunning form at the top of the table.

Chelsea’s Conte blames translation for Italy return talk

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Antonio Conte wants better translators.

The Chelsea manager spoke out Friday following reports that he would return to Italy, and that AC Milan was hot on his heels.

[ PL PREVIEW: Palace vs. Chelsea ]

Milan responded Friday by telling the world it has a manager, and Conte said an interviewer got his words wrong. Yes, Conte wants to one day go back to Italy. No, it won’t be during this contract at Stamford Bridge.

Here’s Conte, speaking ahead of Chelsea’s visit to winless Palace (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

From the BBC:

“I did an interview two weeks ago and the translation was wrong. All I said was that one day in the future I would like to go back to Italy. But you know my position. I have two years contract with Chelsea and am happy to work for this club and with my players. I like to have this great feeling with our fans.

“My family stay here with me, not in Italy. My daughter goes to school here. It is important to write the truth.

“Every coach, when they start, they work with the club and hope they will stay for a long time and build something important. At the same time, I always say our job is difficult and is strange.”

So, yeah, anything is possible but Conte and his family are happy in London for now. When that changes, we’re fairly sure the outspoken Italian will keep us in the loop.

The 2 Robbies: Guardiola’s tactics outdo Conte, Chelsea

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Robbie Mustoe & Robbie Earle dispute whether Harry Kane is world-class (00:25), Manchester United’s gentle start to the season (10:15), the biggest match of the season so far with Chelsea vs. Manchester City (18:50), and Slaven Bilic saved by a late winner (28:20).

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