Conte blasts fixture organisers ahead of busy month

Antonio Conte criticised football's fixture planners as he prepares his side for a manic month in the wake of their 4-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Conte's side eased to victory at The Hawthorns but Conte is already warning his players they face their biggest game of the season at Azerbaijan side FK Qarabag in the Champions League on Thursday morning (Singapore time).

The win against West Brom, which included two goals from Eden Hazard, was the first of nine games in a month in all competitions for the Blues.

Conte is worried about a repeat of the defeat by Manchester City in September, three days after a Champions League game in Spain.

"It was a pity to play against Manchester City only two days after we played Atletico Madrid away," he said.

"We came back at 5am on Thursday and played on Saturday against Manchester City.

"Sometimes, the people who prepare these types of fixtures must pay more attention to give every team the same possibility.

"I think against Manchester City, they were favourites and we stayed very close but, if we had won against Manchester City, the gap is not nine points.

"Now we have another problem. We play Qarabag on Wednesday, we get back to London at 5am, then we have another big game against Liverpool on Saturday.

"Is this normal? I don't think so. If someone wants more balance in this league, they must pay greater attention to preparing the fixtures."

Chelsea head for Qarabag knowing victory will take them into the knockout phase despite back-to-back slip-ups against Roma.

Defeat for West Brom on Saturday left manager Tony Pulis fighting to save his job after just two wins in his last 21 Premier League games dating back to last season.

The Welshman did little to defend his position after the game.

"It's not my decision," said the 59-year-old. "We'll have to see what happens." - AFP