Sunday 30 April 2017

'Zlatan is at the top of his form' - Antonio Conte wary of Ibrahimovic ahead of Manchester United clash

Former Juventus FC head coach Antonio Conte and Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan during the Tim Cup match between AC Milan and Juventus FC at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on February 8, 2012 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Former Juventus FC head coach Antonio Conte and Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan during the Tim Cup match between AC Milan and Juventus FC at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on February 8, 2012 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has praised Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as one of the best players in the world and a striker who is at 'the top of his form.'

Chelsea head to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon to take on a Manchester United side that have not lost a game since they faced Chelsea a month ago in the FA Cup quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues won that game 1-0 but Zlatan failed to feature as he served the first of a three-match suspension for accepting a charge of violent conduct in a game against Bournemouth a week earlier.

Ibrahimovic is United's leading scorer in the league this season with 17 goals in 27 league appearances, and Conte praised the Swedish striker for his all-round game ahead of what is now a crucial fixture for Chelsea in light of Tottenham's 4-0 demolition of Bournemouth on Saturday.

"Zlatan now is at the top of his form," Conte told Sky Sports. "I think he's a great player now, a top player. He's not only a finisher, he plays for the team. For me, he's one of the best players in the world.

"So we must have good defensive organisation and pay great attention because, when he attacks the box, he's very dangerous.

"Also, when he receives the ball, he's dangerous. He's a very dangerous player."

Conte also added that he is expecting a tough, physical game with United this weekend and that in a match that will feature a lot of talented technical players, Chelsea must impose themselves on Jose Mourinho's side.

"My expectations are for a tough game," added Conte. "I think when I talk about a tough game I invoke the tactical, physical and mental aspects.

"It's not right to tell only one of these aspects. There are many great players but technicality is not enough. You must have good impact physically and with the right mentality.

"The coach has to work on the tactical aspect, the physical aspect, the psychological aspect.

"In this type of game it's important to prepare your team to face every situation - tactical, physical or mental."

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