Football: Increased workload affecting Chelsea

Brazil Under-20 forward Richarlison celebrating his first start back in August with a goal against Bournemouth. The 20-year-old has been a star turn for Watford this season and Chelsea have to be wary of him.
Brazil Under-20 forward Richarlison celebrating his first start back in August with a goal against Bournemouth. The 20-year-old has been a star turn for Watford this season and Chelsea have to be wary of him.PHOTO: REUTERS

High-flying Hornets can sting the faltering champions with Richarlison the danger man

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte yesterday dismissed rumours of discontent over his training methods following successive Premier League defeats for the defending champions.

He said Chelsea's training loads are "70 per cent less" than during last season's Premier League-winning campaign and the sheer quantity of matches renders the work that brought success last term "impossible".

Some players reportedly feel that training is too hard and too frequent, now that Champions League commitments mean they have to play two games most weeks.

"I don't know about this," the Italian said when asked about rumours regarding the disgruntlement.

"I have my methods. It's the same, like last season when we won the league. Honestly, I think we are working maybe 70 per cent less this season. Maybe for this reason, we are having trouble.

"When you play every three days, it's impossible to work on the tactical aspect and physical aspect. I think we are paying less attention in every detail."

Chelsea, who had no European commitments last season, play Watford today, seeking to avoid a third successive league loss after defeats by Manchester City and Crystal Palace.

  • ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

    YESTERDAY

    West Ham v Brighton
    Late kick-off

    TODAY

    Chelsea v Watford
    Ch102 & Ch227, 7.30pm

    Huddersfield v Man United
    Ch102 & Ch227, 10pm

    Man City v Burnley
    Ch103 & Ch228, 10pm

    Newcastle v Palace
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    Swansea v Leicester
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    Stoke v Bournemouth
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    Southampton v West Brom
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The Blues, who top Champions League Group C after Wednesday's 3-3 draw with Roma, are nine points behind table-toppers City.

N'Golo Kante (hamstring), Danny Drinkwater (calf) and Victor Moses (hamstring) are out against Watford, while David Luiz (calf) and Tiemoue Bakayoko (groin) picked up knocks against Roma and could be absent.

High-flying Watford will be a tough test for Chelsea today.

Marco Silva's side are currently fourth in the Premier League table - two points above Chelsea - and they have their new £11.2 million (S$20 million) Brazilian signing Richarlison to thank for their good start to the season.

The former Fluminense forward, who plays on the left flank of their attack, has both speed and skill and that has helped in his seamless adaptation to the English top flight.

According to Opta, 41 per cent of Watford's attacks have come down their left flank this season.

That statistic is higher than any other league team - Bournemouth are second with 40 per cent, while Chelsea are 19th with 32 per cent.

In eight league games so far, the Brazil Under-20 international has provided much-needed firepower for Watford with one assist and three goals - the club's joint top scorer with Frenchman Abdoulaye Doucoure.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

CHELSEA V WATFORD
Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 7.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Workload issue affecting Chelsea'. Print Edition | Subscribe