11 Dec You cannot be serious
Antonio Conte has laughed off suggestions Chelsea could face a points deduction for their conduct in the mass brawl following their 3-1 win at Manchester City.
Diego Costa’s fifth goal in six games secured the Blues’ ninth consecutive Premier League win on Sunday, a gritty 1-0 home victory over West Brom.
It has been reported though that Chelsea face the prospect of becoming the first side to be docked points over disciplinary issues since Arsenal and Manchester United in 1990, for their conduct at the Etihad Stadium on December 3.
Blues manager Conte entirely rejected the notion though, insisting he has been at pains for Chelsea to clean up their act.
“Are you joking? Are you joking?” asked Conte when quizzed on the prospect of Chelsea being docked Premier League points.
City players Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were sent off in the melee that followed Chelsea’s win in the north-west.
Aguero’s horror tackle on David Luiz sparked the unrest, that could now see Chelsea losing points for the on-pitch scuffles.
Both Manchester City and Chelsea were charged with failing to control their players. And the Blues’ fifth such charge in 19 months could now see the FA imposing a points deduction.
Chelsea were last fined for failing to control their players following the ill-tempered London derby with Tottenham at the end of last term.
Reports have now indicated the Blues were then issued a warning in writing that any further breaches of discipline could lead to the club losing league points.
Conte however has insisted he remains unfazed by such talk, claiming he is in the process of cleaning Chelsea’s house on the discipline front.
“For me, if you are involved in a situation and the fault is not your one, you must pay? Why? I don’t understand this,” said Conte.
“Manchester City and Chelsea, at the end of the game, my players tried to keep their calm. I don’t understand this. I repeat, I don’t understand this.
“We are trying to improve in all aspects, also (in) this (area). For this reason, I reply: you must be joking. You must be honest and understand which team is at fault.
“We had a bad record in the past, but now we are different.
“I think that, in every game, you fight a lot during 90 minutes and, when the referee whistles at the end, it’s important to finish.
“I don’t know what happened in the past. I know what happened in the present.
“For this reason, I ask if you are joking or not. After the game between City and Chelsea, you could see very clearly that my players tried to keep their calm.”
Costa’s 12th goal of the campaign handed Chelsea their ninth Premier League win on the spin, the Spain hitman robbing Gareth McAuley before blasting past Ben Foster.
Chelsea now have a tangible chance to break their record Premier League winning streak of 11 matches, with Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Stoke all still to come this month.
Arsenal boast the all-time Premier League winning run with 13, but Conte has remained unmoved by the Blues’ tilt at rewriting the history books.
“I’m not interested in the record,” said Conte, with Chelsea topping the table.
“I’m interested in gaining three points in every game because that means we can stay top of the table, and fight for something important.”
Conte believes Costa’s apparent new-found ability to negotiate the disciplinary tightrope backs up his assertion that Chelsea are turning over a new leaf on the behaviour front.
Costa has not even been booked since Chelsea’s last league loss, the 3-0 reverse at Arsenal on September 24, leading Conte to cross his fingers the talismanic forward can avoid any censure for the rest of the month.
“January is arriving no? It’s incredible,” said Conte of Costa’s run without any bookings.
“After the Arsenal defeat Diego had four yellow cards and was on the edge.”
West Brom boss Tony Pulis was left to lament McAuley’s costly mistake that gifted Chelsea victory, but refused to be angry with his players.
“The goal’s disappointing because Gareth should have dealt with it,” said Pulis.
“I’m disappointed for them, because they’ve put so much into the game to then get beaten by that one mistake.
“I have no qualms about how hard they worked. Hopefully that honesty will set us up to achieve something in the rest of the season.”