Antonio Conte hopes Chelsea will finish Sunday’s game against Arsenal with 11 players on the field after red cards in their last two competitive meetings against Arsene Wenger’s men.
The Premier League champions had Victor Moses sent off when Arsenal edged last season’s FA Cup final before Pedro was dismissed as the north-London side claimed the Community Shield on a penalty shoot-out in August.
Chelsea have rebounded well from their shock season-opening defeat at home to Burnley, winning their last four games, including Tuesday’s 6-0 hammering of Qarabag in the Champions League, but Conte will remind them to keep their discipline at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.
He told reporters: “I hope to finish the game with 11 players because in the last two games, the FA Cup final and the Community Shield, we finished with 10.
“For sure when you start the game, you try to keep the right discipline but in both situations, you have to see if there was a red card or not.”
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Chelsea will be without new signing Danny Drinkwater, who could be out until after the October international break due to a calf problem, but Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill are set to play a part.
Conte added: “For sure Eden is improving and is very close to being fully fit. I think he’s improving a lot.
“Gary came back against Qarabag and played very well, a good performance. I am pleased for him. I have another day to reflect and then make the best decision for Sunday.”
Conte made several changes in midweek but is likely to revert to the bulk of the team that won 2-1 at Leicester City last weekend.
“The best target is to try to make the best decision for every game and to try to win. Winning is very important and the answer from all my players in the last game was positive. I was pleased with their commitment,” he said.
“Now there is another tough game and I have another day to check the physical condition of my players.”
Arsenal overcame Cologne 3-1 in the Europa League on Thursday and Conte believes Wenger’s side remain title challengers.
“I think Arsenal are one of the top six teams in England and they have a really good squad to fight for something important, the title, for sure,” he said.
“They lost one player [in the transfer window] – [Alex Oxlade-]Chamberlain. They kept the rest of their players.
“When you play against Arsenal it’s always a massive game. In England, there are six top teams and when you play against them anything can happen.
“I watched the [Cologne] game and Wenger rested a lot of players [to play] against us. It’s not an advantage [to have played on Tuesday].”
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