Football

Points deduction? Are you joking?

Conte laughs off possible sanction due to indiscipline

Antonio Conte insists Chelsea are cleaning up their disciplinary act, amid threats of a Premier League points deduction.

Diego Costa's fifth goal in six games guided the Blues to a ninth straight English Premier League win on Sunday, a hard-fought 1-0 victory over West Brom at Stamford Bridge.

According to reports, Chelsea could become the first Premier League club to be docked points due to indiscipline since Arsenal and Manchester United in 1990.

Chelsea are in the dock for their part in the mass brawl towards the end of their 3-1 win at Manchester City on Dec 3, but Blues boss Conte has entirely rejected the notion of a points deduction.

"Are you joking? Are you joking?" asked Conte when quizzed on the prospect of Chelsea being docked Premier League points.

Sergio Aguero's horror tackle on David Luiz sparked ugly scenes at the Etihad, with the Argentina striker and Fernandinho both sent off.

CHELSEA'S FIFTH CHARGE

Both Man City and Chelsea were charged with failing to control their players.

It was the Blues' fifth such charge in 19 months and could now see the Football Association impose a points deduction.

Antonio Conte.PHOTO: REUTERS

Chelsea were most recently 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.

An unfazed Conte dismissed the notion though, claiming Chelsea are a cleaner side than in the past.

"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.

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... For this reason, I reply: you must be joking. You must be honest and understand which team are at fault.Chelsea manager Antonio Conte (above) on the prospect of his team being docked Premier league points

"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 are at fault.

"We had a bad record in the past, but now we are different."

Against West Brom, Costa grabbed his 12th Premier League goal this term by mugging Gareth McAuley and blasting past the helpless Ben Foster.

Conte feels that the Spaniard has learnt to control his aggression on the pitch, although he picked up four bookings early in the season and remains at risk of a one-match ban should he receive a yellow card in any of Chelsea's next four games.

The cut-off date for a suspension after accumulating five bookings is Dec 31.

"January is arriving, no? It's incredible. If you ask me why in the past, I don't know. But now if you ask me about Diego, I can talk well about his work rate, commitment and behaviour," Conte told British media.

"I'm very lucky because I have players with great behaviour.

"Diego is showing his passion in the right way. You ask why it happened in the past, I don't know. I don't like the provocation."

Chelsea can now chase down their club-record Premier League winning streak of 11, with Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Stoke 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."

- WIRE SERVICES

eplCHELSEA (EPL)West Bromwich Albion