Antonio Conte has dismissed the gripes of rival Premier League managers over the scheduling of Chelsea’s Christmas and new year fixtures, suggesting they are annoyed only at his club’s position at the top of the table.
Chelsea, who have a five‑point lead after a run of 13 consecutive league wins, are at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday for their third match of the festive period.
Those games will have been spread over 10 days, making it the most favourable programme, in terms of rest periods, of the division.
Southampton were the hardest hit, with their three matches crammed in over six days while, of the top six, Liverpool had the tightest schedule, with three games in seven days.
Jürgen Klopp, Arsène Wenger and José Mourinho, the managers of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, have each complained about the scheduling, with Mourinho saying Chelsea and Tottenham had been granted a “privilege” in playing on Wednesday after all of the other clubs.
“I can reply that I didn’t do the fixtures,” Conte said. “I think that’s the simple reply.
“The advantage we have is one more day of rest over Tottenham [since the weekend matches]. That’s the advantage if we want to speak about advantage. But for me, the advantages are other things – during a season, different situations can happen when you can have advantages – but, for sure, not this.
“I think they [the rival managers] are angry for our position, not for the fixtures. I’m not disappointed. I think it’s normal. This also happens in Italy. I repeat – it’s always because you stay up [at the top].”
Conte also noted how Chelsea had played three games in seven days in the run-up to Christmas – against West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Crystal Palace – and, before the Spurs game, he sought to turn the focus inwards and not worry about being up there to be shot at.
Should Chelsea defeat Tottenham, they would equal Arsenal’s top‑flight record in English football for consecutive wins.
“It’s logical to arrive at this sort of situation when you stay up because, at the start of the season, no one could imagine this,” Conte said.
“It’s important that we continue in the same way – to think about ourselves and not look at the other teams and other situations.”