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Conte Blames Fixtures For Slow Start To Season

Antonio Conte has complained that the Premier League title race would be closer had fixtures been arranged more fairly.

The Chelsea manager, who believes even another run of 13 wins in a row might not challenge Manchester City, is still irritated by the timing of his side’s meeting against Pep Guardiola’s team from September.

Conte is also annoyed that Chelsea have one fewer day to rest than Liverpool for next weekend’s fixture after both clubs play in the Champions League.

Chelsea were superb in beating West Bromwich Albion 4-0 to record a fourth win in succession but they remain nine points behind leaders City.

Conte believes that his team’s 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, coming with a day’s fewer rest than City, is proving pivotal.

‘We played against Atletico Madrid away and we came back at five o’clock in the morning on Thursday and we played on Saturday against Manchester City.

‘I think in the game one team was favourite and it was a pity because then you can see that you can stay very close – if you win, the distance is not nine points.

‘For this reason, I think sometimes whoever prepares this type of fixtures must pay more attention and to give all the teams the same possibility.

‘Don’t forget now we have another problem because we are going to play at Qarabag on Wednesday and then we go back to London at five, six o’clock, but we have another great game against Liverpool on Saturday. Is it normal, this? I don’t think.’

Conte added:

‘To win in this way was very important for our confidence, on Wednesday I think this will be the most important game of the season because we have an opportunity for a win to go through to next round. To start this period in this way was very positive.

‘Last season we won 13 in a row but I must be honest in this league it so not simple to have this type of run.’