Aguero not factored into Conte's plan

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after the Champions League match between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain on Sept 27, 2017.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after the Champions League match between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain on Sept 27, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Antonio Conte said yesterday that Sergio Aguero's absence from Chelsea's clash against Manchester City will not alter his preparations for the Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

"First of all, I'm sorry for this situation. I hope that his feeling is good but, usually when you have this kind of accident, it's not good. I hope he stays healthy," the Chelsea manager was quoted as saying by London's Evening Standard.

When asked at the press conference whether he was surprised to see Aguero in Amsterdam two days before a big game, Conte replied: "No, but it was a day off, no?

"Honestly, I'm not worried (when players choose to go abroad on their days off). I have players who try to make the best decisions. It's important to understand when there is the room to travel, to go to see a game or for other situations.

"I was a player and when you have your day off, you must take your own responsibility to try and make the best decision for you, the team and the club.

"I like to give responsibility. The players are not kids. They are men. They have families. They have sons and I think it's important to give them the right responsibility. Then they have to make the best decisions for themselves, for the club, for everyone."

City remain a serious threat to Chelsea even without Aguero. They have scored 21 goals in their first six Premier League matches this season.

POSITIVE VIBES

First of all, I'm sorry for this situation (the rib injury suffered by Sergio Aguero). I hope that his feeling is good but, usually when you have this kind of accident, it's not good. I hope he stays healthy.

ANTONIO CONTE, explaining that he does not need to change his tactics, despite Aguero's absence from the City side.

Conte spoke highly of the expansive way in which City manager Pep Guardiola sets up his teams.

"I have great respect for Pep," the Italian said. "I think he's the best and I have great respect for him, for his work. I like to watch his games.

"Don't forget, every coach tries every day to take more information, new ideas, and then try to elaborate with your style, no? Pep is a really good coach."

Conte confirmed that Danny Drinkwater remains the only injury absentee in his squad, with Alvaro Morata having shaken off a knock suffered against Atletico Madrid in midweek, while Eden Hazard is also primed to start his second match in three days.

"I think Eden, if he was able to play one game like the Atletico game, it means he's ready now to play with continuity," the Chelsea manager said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Aguero not factored into Conte's plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe