Blues' lead cause for jealousy: Conte

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in London, on Jan 4, 2017.
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in London, on Jan 4, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Antonio Conte has dismissed the gripes of rival English Premier League managers over the scheduling of Chelsea's Christmas and new year fixtures, suggesting they are annoyed only at his club's position at the top of the table.

Chelsea, who have a five-point lead after a run of 13 consecutive league wins, faced Tottenham Hotspur yesterday (this morning, Singapore time) for their third match of the festive period.

Those games were spread over 10 days, making it the most favourable programme, in terms of rest periods, of the division.

Southampton were the hardest hit, with their three matches crammed in over six days while, of the top six, Liverpool had the tightest schedule, with three games in seven days.

Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, the managers of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United respectively, have each complained about the scheduling, with Mourinho saying Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur had been granted a "privilege" in playing on Wednesday after all the other clubs.

"I can reply that I didn't do the fixtures," Conte said. "I think that's the simple reply.

"The advantage we have is one more day of rest over Tottenham (since the weekend matches). That's the advantage if we want to speak about advantage.

"But for me the advantages are other things - during a season, different situations can happen when you can have advantages - but, for sure, not this.

"I think they (the rival managers) are angry for our position, not for the fixtures. I'm not disappointed. I think it's normal. This also happens in Italy. I repeat - it's always because you stay up (at the top)."

Conte also noted how Chelsea had played three games in seven days just before Christmas - against West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Crystal Palace.

"It's important that we continue in the same way - to think about ourselves and not look at the other teams and other situations," he said.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Blues' lead cause for jealousy: Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe