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Conte: Schedule not helping us



Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte thinks the schedulers of Premier League fixtures are hindering English clubs' chances of winning the Champions League.

Chelsea this week are embarking on their longest Champions League journey - it is almost 2,500 miles (4000 kilometres) between London and Baku, further than the November 2015 trip to Israel - before facing Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Blues need a win over Qarabag this evening to guarantee their progress to the last 16 and can ill afford to drop points at Anfield as their deficit to Manchester City is nine points after 12 games.

Conte said: "If you ask me if we're ready to catch up Manchester City, whoever prepares the fixtures must try to change something. I think this is the best way for English football.

"I'm talking for all the teams who are playing in the Champions League, not just for Chelsea.

"For a lot of time, there isn't an English team playing a final in the Champions League. Why (is) this?

"The teams are very strong and every team has the possibility to go through to the path to the Champions League (final).

"I don't like to find excuses or alibis, but this is the reality. Sometimes I think it's right to give respect for our job."

Chelsea, who won the European Cup in 2012, are the last English team to have reached the final.

Conte's complaint is familiar. It is one made regularly by Jose Mourinho, Chelsea's former boss who is now at Manchester United.

Baku is four hours ahead of London, but Chelsea are staying on Greenwich Mean Time to limit the effects of jet lag.

The Blues, meanwhile, have lost the lead of Group C to Roma following a draw and a 3-0 defeat in Italy.

Conte has no fresh injuries and is likely to rotate his options. David Luiz could return in defence after he lost his place to Andreas Christensen following the loss at Roma. Conte added: "I trust in all my players."

  • Qarabag v Chelsea, Live Eir Sp2/BT Sp 2, KO 5.0