Chelsea vs Newcastle United
Conte – The Italian is not happy that Chelsea are facing Newcastle at 12.30pm on Saturday having only played Swansea on Wednesday night.
He has already complained this season about the timing of fixtures against Manchester City and Liverpool which came two days after returning from Champions League trips to Madrid and Baku respectively.
The Blues also saw a League game against Watford in October moved from Monday night to Saturday, just three days after they played at home to Roma.
Conte’s patience has run out and he said: “This is the fourth time. I’m not stupid, if someone wants to joke with me I’m not the right person to joke (with).
“I want to protect my club, I want to try to protect my players, I want to try to protect my fans, also I want to try to protect the Premier League.
“Now we have 11 points less than Manchester City. Yes, but if you remember when we played Manchester City they rested one day more than us.
“We played against Liverpool, Liverpool rested one day more than us. Against Watford we should have played on Monday and then they changed it to Saturday at 12.30 after we played on Wednesday.
“Now it has happened again. Newcastle played on Tuesday night, we played on Wednesday night and now we have to play again on Saturday at 12.30.
“I don’t want to complain, but, OK once it can happen. Twice it can happen. Against Man City. The third time, you start to be perplexed.
“In only 14 League games (it has happened) four times. It is very difficult to think that this is a coincidence, honestly. Honestly.”
It is understood that Chelsea raised the issue with the Premier League some time ago, but are aware that there is not much they can do given Sky Sports and BT Sport pick the games they want televised.
Chelsea receive £11m per televised match and so can’t moan about the situation too much.
Conte maintains that he is thinking of the integrity of the competition and not just about Chelsea.
He added: “I don’t want advantages for my team. I want the same rest as our opponents. It’s very difficult to do this? I don’t think so.
“If you give one day more of rest (to other teams) and then you play every three days, you have injuries and the squad is this, you can find a lot of difficulties.
“I spoke with my club and I hope my club will try to do something about the situation. I repeat: I’m trying to protect my club, I’m trying to protect my players and I’m trying to protect the fans and maybe also the League.
On the other side, Chelsea have dropped only two points since that slapdash defeat at Selhurst Park in October and can unleash Eden Hazard back into the fray after the Belgian featured for only nine minutes in the midweek win over Swansea. Newcastle, in contrast, have won only once since September and boast a solitary victory at Stamford Bridge since 1986. Their comeback at the Hawthorns on Tuesday offers some cause for optimism but Rafael Benítez, a Europa League winner as Chelsea’s interim manager, is braced for an awkward return.
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