Antonio Conte has seemingly played down Tottenham’s chances of winning this season’s Premier League title despite their fast start to the campaign.
Spurs sit second in the table – level on points with Manchester City – and are unbeaten domestically heading into the international break, winning five of their opening seven league games.
Their most recent victory came on Saturday with a 6-2 thrashing of Leicester. The two sides went into the break level at 2-2 after an impressive first half from the Foxes, but Son Heung-min emerged from the bench to score a hat-trick and help his side to a huge win.
Conte was quizzed on his decision to drop Son following his recent goal drought, and it was put to the Italian that big clubs need this competition for places in order to succeed.
“Yeah, but honestly, In the past, I did the same in every situation I worked in: Chelsea, in Juventus, in Inter Milan,” Conte replied, before revealing his staunch assessment of his current squad.
“When you want to be competitive and fight for something important and I repeat, we have just started our path because, in my opinion, our squad is not still ready to be strong, strong compared with City, Liverpool and Chelsea – then we fight also with Arsenal and Manchester United.”
However, Conte has challenged his charges to find it within themselves to take their collective game to another level in order to win the club’s first trophy since 2008.
He added: “We have just started, but if the players want to play for something important, to lift a trophy – they have to understand this. Otherwise, they continue to play every game, but they don’t go to win anything. This is clear. Clear. It happened in the past here, and I repeat, I want to try and change. I want to try and change to bring this team to another level. I will try to do my best. But I’m not worried about this. For sure, it’s not easy. It’s not simple. But I have to get the best decision in every moment.”
Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury
Wesley Fofana’s knee injury is better than initially feared after the first set of tests returned positive results.
The defender suffered a knee injury in a collision with Rafael Leao in the 38th minute of Chelsea’s 3-0 home win against AC Milan, as his night ended in frustrating fashion having scored his first goal for the club earlier in the match.
There is hope that Fofana could return before the World Cup, with Chelsea’s final match before the tournament taking place away to Newcastle on November 12.
The centre-back is likely to miss this weekend’s clash against Wolves and the away match at San Siro against Milan next week.
Fofana was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches on Wednesday night, with his right knee in a brace as there were worries he may have suffered a serious injury.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after Chelsea’s victory over Milan, Blues boss Graham Potter admitted he was unsure how bad it would prove to be for Fofana.
‘We’ll have to scan it tomorrow and see how he is but there’s nothing to report at the moment,” Potter said.
“That’s the one disappointing thing about the evening so we have our fingers crossed. We’re concerned but I don’t want to speculate on it now.
“These things happen. He’s a young guy and a strong guy but we’ll support him.”
Erik ten Hag explains decision to substitute Jadon Sancho in Omonia victory
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has confessed that he was unimpressed with the left side of his team in the first half of Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Omonia Nicosia, leading to him substituting both Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia at half-time.
United were woeful in the first half and trailed at the break after Sancho and Malacia conspired to give away the ball for the cheapest of counter-attack goals, and both were hooked at the interval.
Sancho was replaced by Marcus Rashford, who went on to bag a goal and an assist, while fellow substitute Anthony Martial also scored just moments after being introduced on the hour mark.
Asked to explain his logic behind removing Sancho while his team were losing, Ten Hag said: “It [the goal] was not what I wasn’t happy with, it was the movement with our ball.
“The width on the left side, for me, was no good first-half – the movement from behind the defending line.
“So I hoped with Luke [Shaw] and Marcus we get more effect from that and so in my opinion that happens.”
Asked what he told Rashford and the rest of the team at the break to inspire a comeback, Ten Hag told BT Sport: “More runs, we are too static, we have to make the opposition move to get behind – that is why we made two subs.
“The subs really had an impact today.”
The boss added: “I would call it stay composed. It can always happen, football is a game of mistakes. I agree with you, first 30 or 35 minutes, we played quite well, the only thing we didn’t do was score a goal.
“When you score a goal you make your life easy, we didn’t. Then we concede a goal and it was the worst 10 minutes from the game from us. After half-time, we dealt well with the setback.”
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