15 Apr No protection for Hazard
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte admits he cannot stop Manchester United targeting Eden Hazard.
Belgium winger Hazard, nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, was singled out for some rough treatment by United when the teams met in the FA Cup last month.
The tactics backfired as Ander Herrera was sent off for fouling Hazard and United went on to lose 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
At the time Conte was angered by the visitors’ approach but, ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Old Trafford on Sunday, the Italian says he has not made any preparations for more of the same.
“No, it’s very difficult to prepare for this type of situation,” he said.
“We are preparing the tactical aspect of the game and trying to find the best solutions offensively and defensively. This game will be very tough but I didn’t prepare anything for this situation.
“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 – to be ready.
“My expectations are for a tough game. 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.”
If Chelsea are to cement their place at the top of the table they will have to keep United talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet.
The 35-year-old has scored 28 goals in his first season in England, and Conte feels he is playing some of the best football of his illustrious career.
“Zlatan now is at the top of his form,” added Conte.
“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.”