As he approaches his first London derby against Arsenal, Antonio Conte has been speaking about a player ruled out, one who may return to the league starting line-up, and about the team effort needed to cut down on goals conceded.
Conte’s media conference was held on Friday afternoon after training and the first question he faced was on the fitness of his captain, who injured ankle ligaments in the game at Swansea two weekends ago and whose initial estimate was for a return around about now.
“John Terry is working hard but he didn’t recover for the game against Arsenal,” Conte reported. “I don’t know when he will play because it is important what the player feels, and the pain he feels.”
If Terry is in full training next week, it is likely he will be joined by Kurt Zouma who has been a far longer absentee. Conte told the media he has offered the young defender, who underwent knee surgery in February, the chance to re-join the sessions in full after the weekend. He anticipates it is probable Zouma will be available for selection after next month’s international break.
The subject of defenders was also raised in the conference due to Chelsea having conceded two goals in each of our last three matches.
“When we conceded the goals, all the team conceded the goals and not only the defenders,” responded Conte.
“It means we must improve and work together to improve the defensive situations. This problem was already there last season because Chelsea conceded 55 goals, and we must work a lot on this aspect because if you want to challenge for a championship, you mustn’t concede so many goals.
“We are working to reach a level that is always high. It is normal when you start the work in a new team and you bring a new idea and methods that you need time, but I am confident about this and we trust in the work and I know we can improve a lot.”
Conte turned his thoughts to opponents Arsenal and also to one of their former players who may take on the Gunners again as an opponent.
“For Cesc [ Fabregas] this is a special game but the most important thing for Cesc now is that he is a Chelsea player and he is playing very well for Chelsea. I am seeing him very focused and concentrated during the training and he played a good game in the cup. It is a possibility he can start [against] Arsenal. I have another day to make the decision.
“We know tomorrow we face a good team and for sure they will fight until the end to win the title. Arsenal has good young players with great technique and good potential and organisation. They play good football.
“This is a big game between two big rivals and it is important to play a good game after the defeat against Liverpool.”