Antonio Conte Fumes at Chelsea vs. Manchester City Scheduling in Premier League

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2017

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs Chelsea FC at the Metropolitan stadium in Madrid on September 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU        (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hit out at the scheduling of his team's Premier League fixture with Manchester City on Saturday. 

The title challengers will face each other in the late kick-off slot in the most anticipated game of the 2017-18 campaign. And Chelsea will be on a high heading into the showdown at Stamford Bridge, having beaten Atletico Madrid 2-1 on the road in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Even so, Conte has said he is dismayed the match is not on Sunday, meaning there is little time to prepare for the contest, per Dominic Fifield of the Guardian.

"For sure, we will return to London around 4 a.m.," he said. "To have only one day to prepare for this type of game is not right. Above all because, now, it's an international break. There aren't other fixtures. Honestly, I'm very surprised to see that this game we have to play on Saturday, not on Sunday. I don't understand why."

Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Conte said he felt his side had been "penalised" because of the decision to play the game on Saturday, with City having faced Shakhtar Donetsk at home a day earlier. The Chelsea boss added he will only be able to make a decision on his team "one or two hours" before the game.

As football writer Rik Sharma noted, it was clear the former Juventus boss was angry with the situation:

This type of scheduling is new for the coach in his current position, as Conte didn't have European commitments to contend with last season as Chelsea romped to the Premier League title.

Now the Blues are fighting on domestic and continental fronts, and although there will be a strain on his squad as a result, the indications are this team are ready to do so. After all, winning against Atletico in Spain is rare, particularly having had to come from behind.

Batshuayi's goal saw the Blues to a famous win.
Batshuayi's goal saw the Blues to a famous win.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

On the night, Antoine Griezmann fired Atletico ahead before Alvaro Morata grabbed a second-half equaliser. Michy Batshuayi then found space in the box with effectively the last kick of the game to win the match for the Blues.

Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC was especially impressed with the way Chelsea acquitted themselves on the night:

The clash with City could have feasibly been scheduled for Sunday, though three teams involved in the three games set for that day—Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool—also had European commitments. In this instance, the fixture list has gone against the Blues.

But with an international break on the horizon and the backing of what will be a raucous home support for a vital encounter, Conte and his players can throw everything into Saturday's meeting with Pep Guardiola's side.