Chelsea boss Antonio Conte aims dig at Manchester United approach
LONDON -- Antonio Conte says he hopes Chelsea always face teams who "want to play football" after clashing with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho in Monday's ill-tempered FA Cup quarterfinal at Stamford Bridge.
N'Golo Kante's 25-yard strike settled the game but much of the postmatch discussion focused on United's physical and pragmatic approach, which resulted in Ander Herrera receiving two yellow cards in the first 35 minutes and the visitors frequently lining up with a back six when Chelsea were in possession.
Conte exchanged angry words with Mourinho on the touchline regarding what he perceived as United's deliberate targeting of Eden Hazard, and afterwards claimed that Mourinho's men had made it "impossible" for the winger to play football for much of the first half.
"I understand that in football there are these type of situations," Conte said. "But I don't like this, and I always want to face a team who want to play football and to beat us playing football. I think that's important."
Asked if Hazard needs more protection from referees, he added: "I think it's right for the referees always to make the best decision and try to get the players to have the respect for their opponents and for football. We play football.
"Then, I know -- me, first of all -- it can happen that you can be kicked. It's normal, this. But the referee must pay great attention and then try to respect the rules of football. Football is a great sport.
"Hazard is a type of player who is very difficult to stop. For this reason, sometimes you try to stop him with a good or bad way. But I'm not worried. I'm not worried about this.
"Eden is very strong, physically, and has shown me that he is able to play this league which is very strong physically. He's not tall, but he's strong."
Chelsea face Stoke City on Saturday aiming to maintain their 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League, and Conte's preparations have been boosted by the news that Victor Moses is fit despite leaving the pitch with what appeared to be a calf injury during the United win.
"Victor Moses trained well today [on Friday]," Conte said. "I think he's available but, for the game against Stoke City, it's important to check a couple of situations [with other players] and then make the best decisions tomorrow."
Asked who those players are, he replied: "I'd prefer to keep those to me."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.