Conte on Lampard’s future, Man City’s threat, Guardiola’s ‘mental strategy’ and ‘unlucky’ Arsenal

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was asked about a number of issues at his press conference ahead of the visit of Arsenal on Saturday. Here’s a bit of what he had to say…

Team news

“We have all the players available, no injuries.”

The Liverpool game

“The result was good but, honestly, at the end we were a bit disappointed because we had the possibility to win the game.

“Now it’s important to think about the next game. Arsenal are another great team – they have the possibility to fight for the title and for this reason it’s very important to be concentrated and to be focused.

Losing 3-0 at Arsenal in September

“This defeat seems far [away] but it’s important to remember it because it was a bad defeat. In my mind, it’s always present. I hope also in the mind of my players.

“I think a lot of things have changed. We want to have a good game and try to win. We play at home, we have our fans.

“It will be a really tough game, so we must pay great attention. We have nine points more than Arsenal but if you lose the game tomorrow it becomes six.

“I think, in this moment, it’s very important to exploit this momentum for us. We are in good shape, we are playing good football with good intensity and tomorrow we have a good opportunity to show this.”

Arsene Wenger’s touchline ban

“I prefer to stay on the touchline to speak with my players, to try to push them, to stay very close in every moment of the game, in negative situations and positive situations. For me it’s very important, but I don’t want to talk for the other team.”

Diego Costa linked again with China

“Every week I hear a lot of news, a lot of speculation about Diego. The most important thing is to be focused on this championship.

“We are in a good position, Diego is an important player for us, he is very happy to stay with us. These are the most important things, not what happens in the summer.

“The summer is far [away]. It’s important to think in the present and to prepare a good future for us.”

Reported interest in Moussa Dembele and Craig Gordon

“Honestly, for Dembele, I never talked with my club about this player. It’s the truth.

“For Gordon, we tried. We tried to help Asmir Begovic, to satisfy his request to go and to play every game.

“I always told him that if we were able to find the right substitution, he could leave.

“For sure, Gordon was one of the goalkeepers on the list. We tried, but when the club told us its not possible, we finished.”

Frank Lampard’s retirement

“It’s a pity when a great player [such] as Frank Lampard decides to stop his career because you lose a fantastic player. The whole world of football is a bit disappointed.

“Frank, for this club, is a legend. He played 13 years, he won a lot with this team, he played 100 or more [games] with the national team.

“But I think we must respect his decision because every player understands the right moment to finish his career.

“I have great respect for him, for his career and above all for the man. I didn’t know him very well, but I heard a lot of positive things about him.”

Any possible future role for Lampard at Chelsea

“I don’t know his thoughts. It’s important, when you decide to finish your career, to take a bit of time to decide, to make the best decision for you. I think Frank Lampard can decide which is the best way for him.”

Pep Guardiola’s claim Manchester City are out of the title race

“It’s a normal mental strategy that every single coach tries to use for his players, and also to try to put a bit of pressure on the other teams.

“[When we lost at Arsenal] I remember that we were seven points from City. To answer Pep, the situation can change very quickly, even if you have 10 points more. There are 15 games and we must pay great attention.”

Putting Arsenal out of title contention

“If we win the game tomorrow, for sure it’s a good help for us, to take three points and also to have Arsenal 12 points [behind] is very good.

“But I’m sure it’ll be a really tough game because Arsenal beat us already and they have the possibility to repeat this. It’s important to have the same anger, to have the will to fight to try to win.

“I like to repeat to my players, look at ourselves rather than look at the others.”

Arsenal’s midweek defeat by Watford

“I watched the game. The final result didn’t tell the truth. If you watch the game, I think Arsenal were unlucky a lot.

“Watford played a really good game, but Arsenal had a lot of opportunities to score to draw or win the game.

“It didn’t happen but I think they are in a good shape, in good form and the result was a strange result.”

Changing to the 3-4-3 system during the Arsenal defeat

“To change your system during the game, it means that you have this change in your mind. During the game against Arsenal, in the second half after 10 mins, I decided to change our system because in my mind there was this possibility. I’m very happy I did because now we are top of the league.”

Watching Manchester City win at West Ham

“When I have the possibility I like to go to the stadium to watch the game live because I think it’s very important for the coach to watch the future opponents.

“In this case, we play in the future against West Ham and against City.

“I saw a really good team but we all know the real potential of Manchester City. I think they have a great squad, a lot of fantastic players, and they played a really good game against West Ham.

“I saw the [substitutes] list. I read [Sergio] Aguero, Fernandinho, [Jesus] Navas, [Pablo] Zabaleta, a lot of great players. But it’s normal. We must have great respect for Manchester City because they have a great squad. They showed they can alternate their players and win the same.

“If someone thinks that the league is finished, I’m not so sure. There are 15 games to play and there are a lot of great teams behind us.

“I want to keep our concentration very high – me, my players, the club, the fans – because we must know that anything can happen.”