Antonio Conte has confirmed John Terry will miss Chelsea’s trip to Arsenal on Saturday.
The captain and central defender’s absence due to an ankle injury proved significant last Friday against Liverpool when they suffered their first defeat of the season.
Terry has also been crucial in Chelsea being undefeated against Arsenal in their past nine league meetings and instrumental in them not conceding during the last six of those.
Arsenal’s poor run against their rivals means Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will be expected to inspire a reaction after losing to Liverpool.
There had been reports that Terry, who suffered the injury in the draw at Swansea on September 11, but Blues boss Antonio Conte said: “John hasn’t recovered from his injury.
“He’s working, working, but he hasn’t recovered for the game against Arsenal. I don’t know (when he will be back). In this case it’s important what the player feels, the pain he feels.
“It’s normal (that Terry wants to play). In the team and the squad we have three central defenders. It’s normal to make a choice. It’s normal when you are in a team like Chelsea to have this problem, but I don’t see any problem in this situation.
“This is a big game between two big rivals. It’s important to play a good game. Above all after our defeat against Liverpool. But we know that we’ll face a team, a good team, a big rival.
“I’m sure that Arsenal will fight until the end to win the title because they’re a very good team, (with) young players, great technique, good players with good physical potential and organisation.
“When there are these types of games, they’re very tough. It’s not necessary to push any player. These big games give great emotion and great expectation. For this reason the players are already motivated.
“(Chelsea) can improve a lot. It’s normal that, when you start work with a new team, and you bring a new idea or method of football, you need a bit of time. But I’m confident about this. We trust in the work. I know that we can improve a lot.”
At Leicester on Tuesday Cesc Fabregas produced a fine performance and scored two goals in a 4-2 EFL Cup victory to press his claims for a regular position in Conte’s starting XI.
The manager, however, refused to say he would be retained against his former team, and also revealed he expects Kurt Zouma to return to training next week as he recovers from injuring his anterior cruciate ligaments.
“For Cesc, it’s a special game for him,” he said. “But the most important thing is that, now, he’s a Chelsea player and playing very well for Chelsea.
“I’m seeing him very focused, very concentrated, during the training sessions. He played a good game in the cup. It can be the possibility that he can start but I have another day to make a decision.
“For Zouma, I hope to see him in the training sessions next week. He’s in good shape and I hope to see him next week in training, to start counting on him.
“Possibly (he will return after the international break). Possibly. Probably. We will wait one week more.”