Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte insisted goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was one of his squad’s best penalty takers in practice before his shoot-out horror show at Wembley in the Community Shield.
Belgium international Courtois had the chance to be the Premier League champions’ hero between the posts in the traditional season curtain raiser after Arsenal newboy Sead Kolasinac cancelled out Victor Moses’ opener to secure a 1-1 draw.
But he stepped forward to face down opposite number Petr Cech from 12 yards, blazing horribly over the bar, and, with Chelsea’s record signing Alvaro Morata also off target from the spot, Arsenal prevailed 4-1.
“Courtois is one of the best players to kick a penalty,” Conte told a post-match news conference.
“If you have a player that shows you during the training session to be one of the best, you pick him to play, to shoot the penalty.
“Don’t forget also that Morata is a forward and he did the same.”
Spain international Morata will be tasked with leading the line at Stamford Bridge this season after Conte froze Diego Costa out of the first-team picture and the Italian urged patience with the former Juventus star.
“Morata needs to work,” he said. “It is normal, he has been with us for only one week. It is very important to have a good physical condition and to understand our idea of football.
“He needs a bit of time but it is normal. It is the same for [Antonio] Rudiger and [Tiemoue] Bakayoko.”
Conte was also treated to familiar questions over whether he was happy with a close season at Chelsea that saw Romelu Lukaku join Manchester United instead of the champions, with Nemanja Matic also moving to Old Trafford.
“I think I have already replied to this question and I hope in the future to have a different question,” he added, bridling at the line of enquiry.
“About whether there is the necessity to improve our squad, about our strikers – I replied.
“My reply is always one [thing], otherwise it means I was telling you a lie. The truth is the one and I repeat always the same.”
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