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Antonio Conte set to stay as Chelsea boss as players given three days off

Conte has found his position come under scrutiny.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte (left) has seen his side lose two straight Premier League matches (Adam Davy/PA Wire)
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte (left) has seen his side lose two straight Premier League matches (Adam Davy/PA Wire)

By Jim van Wijk, Press Association Sport

Chelsea feel a three-day break will help allow the players to return to training refreshed and ready tackle the challenges ahead under manager Antonio Conte.

Italian Conte has found his position in the spotlight following two straight Premier League defeats including Monday’s 4-1 loss at Watford.

Press Association Sport understands that there was no board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the manager’s future.

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone have both been linked with Conte’s job, but it is understood there are currently no discussions with any other potential managerial candidates.

The Chelsea players have, though, been given three days off before returning on Friday in the build-up to the home match against West Brom on February 12.

Conte remained defiant when again pressed on his future after the defeat at Vicarage Road, where the home side scored three late goals after Eden Hazard’s fine 81st-minute strike looked to have rescued a draw.

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Eden Hazard scored a late equaliser for Chelsea, but Watford hit back to run out 4-1 winners (Adam Davy/PA Wire)

“I’m not worried about my job,” the Italian said, before signalling his intention to continue working to turn the team’s form around.

Conte arrived at Stamford Bridge during the summer of 2016 and swiftly led Chelsea to the Premier League title, winning 30 matches.

However, mounting a successful defence while also juggling the demands of a European campaign has proved testing, with Chelsea now some 19 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Yet despite having also lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth last week, Chelsea remain in the top four of the Premier League, one point ahead of Tottenham.

Conte has also guided the Blues into the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they will be at home against Sky Bet Championship side Hull, while also soon getting set for a Champions League showdown with Barcelona.

Chelsea backed their manager, who still has 18 months of his contract to run, during the January transfer window by bringing in defender Emerson Palmieri from Roma and France forward Olivier Giroud from Arsenal.

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Chelsea signed both Olivier Giroud (left) and Emerson Palmieri (right) ahead of the transfer deadline (Nigel French/PA Wire)

Although the spotlight is very much on Conte’s future, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill maintains the squad needs to be held accountable for the “abysmal” performance against Watford.

“Whatever is decided, the players have to take responsibility. The manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job,” Cahill said.

“This is the worst I’ve felt for quite a while.

“Performance-wise, I didn’t recognise us or myself.

“It was abysmal. It hurts a lot when you come off after a performance like that.

“We just need to keep strong. I’ve been here before at this club – it’s about staying calm.”

Chelsea have, meanwhile, vowed to ban any supporters found to have used antisemitic language or behaviour “which shames our club” during the match at Watford.

A report on jewishwebsite.com claims Chelsea supporter Jonathan Metliss was left “disgusted” with the chanting he heard from fellow Blues fans at Vicarage Road.

“Antisemitism has no place in our club, football or wider society,” a Chelsea spokesman said.

Press Association

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