Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wants more 'respect' in fixture schedule
Antonio Conte has again urged fixture schedulers to give top English clubs more "respect," with Chelsea set to face Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday less than 72 hours after completing a gruelling 5,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan to take on Qarabag in the Champions League.
Chelsea face the Azerbaijani champions on Wednesday night needing a win to book their place in the round of 16 of the Champions League, but Conte must also consider the physical toll on his players ahead of a crucial clash in the Premier League against Liverpool.
Liverpool will enjoy an extra day's rest after taking on Sevilla in Spain on Tuesday, and Conte -- who was similarly frustrated when Chelsea were required to take on Atletico Madrid and Manchester City in the space of three days at the end of September -- believes his team are at a disadvantage again.
"On Saturday we are going to play another tough game against Liverpool," Conte told a news conference. "This season it is the second time we have had this situation, firstly against Manchester City and now Liverpool is playing tonight and we play tomorrow, a long trip, and it will be very difficult to recover and rest.
"[The people] who prepare the fixtures for the league must pay great attention, because it is difficult to ask if we can catch Manchester City if we are in this situation. I don't want to find an excuse, but this is the reality.
"I would like to underline that I am talking about all teams that are playing in the Champions League, not only Chelsea. England needs to try to understand this and try to change something. [For] a lot of time there isn't an English team that has won the Champions League. Every team has the possibility to go through.
"[The people] who prepare these fixtures must pay great attention. We are doing our job and it's important to do it in the best way. We want also a bit of respect for our job."
Asked what time he expected Chelsea to get back to London on Thursday, Conte replied: "Maybe four or five o'clock [in the morning]? It depends on some things.
"This is not the first time -- [we had] to play Manchester City in the same condition. If we won the game the difference [at the top of the table] would only be three points, but now it is nine. They must look to change something because it is the best thing for English football."
Michy Batshuayi (ankle), Charly Musonda (knee) and Kenedy (muscular problem) are out of the Qarabag game. Victor Moses (hamstring) also remains unavailable, though Conte hopes to have him back in time to feature against Liverpool.
"For sure I have to make the best decision for these games because we are playing every three days and it is normal to have rotation," Conte added. "I trust my players and am very sure for my choice.
"For us the game against Qarabag is very important as we don't want to wait to go through to the next round. When you wait or you arrive in this type of moment it could be more difficult for us. They drew twice with Atletico and we have great respect for this team, we must be very clear. If someone thinks that we are sure to win, it will not be easy."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.