Conte insists it is “not a good time” to play Tottenham

Date published: Saturday 19th August 2017 1:55

Antonio Conte has claimed that Chelsea “must be ready” for the new season as they aim to get their first point at Spurs on Sunday.

Chelsea lost the opening match of their Premier League title defence at home to Burnley and face last season’s runners-up Tottenham at their temporary home of Wembley on Sunday.

“We are ready to fight with all our strength to face this difficult situation,” Conte said.

“Don’t find excuse, don’t find an alibi. We must work, work and work.

“I like a lot this verb and I use it a lot. Last season through the work we won.”

Spurs lost to Chelsea at Wembley in April’s FA Cup semi-final and have just two wins in 10 games at the rebuilt national stadium, where they played Champions League games last term.

Asked if it was a good opportunity to play Spurs early in the season, Conte said: “I don’t think it’s a good time to play against them.”

Conte described last season as one of transition, yet guided Chelsea to the title.

He has been frustrated in the transfer market this summer as he seeks to continue rebuilding Chelsea.

And, although the Blues have signed striker Alvaro Morata, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, defender Antonio Rudiger and back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero, the squad appears short on numbers ahead of a Champions League return.

The Blues boss has also had to manage the Diego Costa conundrum which has seen the striker exiled and demanding a move to his former club Atletico Madrid. Conte laughed off Costa’s complaints on Friday.

Conte says he warned the Chelsea hierarchy of the challenges that his second season would pose.

Conte said: “No, I’m not surprised. I knew very well this season would be very difficult for us.

“Don’t forget last season we won the league and we reached the final of the FA Cup with only 13 players. Thirteen players played regularly.

“Also last season we struggled a lot and we worked very well. We were also lucky, don’t have injuries.

“This season we lost two players (Nemanja Matic to Manchester United and Costa).

“Now we have to try to continue to work. Now the most important thing for me is the club knows very well this.

“I was very clear with the club, ‘we must be ready because next season will be very difficult’.”

Conte took time to agree an improved contract, but not an extended one, and there have been rumours of behind-the-scenes friction over transfers.

Conte insists he is leaving transfers to others – primarily director Marina Granovskaia and technical director Michael Emenalo – and will be happy whatever the make up of his squad come the close of the summer transfer window on August 31.

“My task is to work with my players, to improve my team, to improve my players,” Conte added.

“I know that the club is working and is trying to do their best in the transfer market.

“At the end of the transfer market we’ll see what happens. In both cases I will be very happy.”

With defender Gary Cahill and midfielder Cesc Fabregas suspended, Bakayoko could make his debut after signing from Monaco while nursing a knee injury.

Victor Moses is available following a ban, but Eden Hazard and Pedro (both ankle) are major doubts.

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