By Johnny Edward:
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has praised Tottenham Hotspur and their manager Mauricio Pochettino for building a solid foundation for the club.
The Blues face Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday at Wembley – a ground where the Blues have lost in their last two visits.
Conte, whose side lost their opening league game this season 3-2 at home to Burnley last Saturday, admitted that Chelsea lost some of their foundation when some experienced players left the club last season.
Although Conte did not give Nigeria captain Mikel Obi even one minute of action when the Italian arrived as Chelsea boss last year, he still named the Super Eagles midfielder as one of the “strong players” the club have lost
“I think they are doing a great job in this year, Pochettino is doing a great job,” Conte said on Friday during his pre-match press conference. “He has built a great base, foundation for his club.
“We must do the same, we don’t have these bases. We must try to do the same. I have great respect for Tottenham, they are doing a great job They are challenging for the title.
“I have great respect for their job, I want to help my club to build the same solid foundation, we don’t have this. We need time to work, to improve.
“I thought this season would be difficult, we lost a lot of strong players that built a strong base.
“(John) Terry, Mikel (Obi), (Miroslav) Ivanovic, and now we need to find the right way to build and it’s right to know we must have patience to build for the future. We have to work very hard.”
Conte also ruled out the posibilty of playing David Luiz in midfield in the absence of Cesc Fabregas who is suspended for the game. He also ruled out Pedro Rodriguez, Eden Hazard and Timeou Bakayoko from the game.
The former Juventus coach added: “In the past he played in the midfield, I prefer him to play central defence. We are trying to find a different solution. He is a player to play in different solutions, it is a pleasure to have this sort of player.”
Conte however refused to rule out playing Alvaro Morata and Mitchy Bashuayi from the start.
He said: “I think everything is possible, but then I have to think that there is a game, the game has 95 minutes and I must have to find the solution to change the game, with different options. I have to try to think to bring on the bench the possibility to change the game.”
He however assured the club fans that despite their opening day defeat the Blues will have a great season.
“I can tell the only thing that we are working very hard to try to do the best for the club. Football is not good to try to create the illusion.
“The only words thought that I can tell our fans is that we are working very hard for the players to have a good season. You know very well there are situations that you can’t control.”