Conte: Chelsea miss European football

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The Italian has dismissed suggestions his side have been helped by a lack of midweek action ahead of their clash with Jose Mourinho’s men at Stamford Bridge.

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Antonio Conte says Chelsea not playing European football in midweek is not an advantage ahead of their Sunday showdown with Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho makes his return to Stamford Bridge on the back of a 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League on Thursday, potentially resulting in some of his players suffering fatigue.

Chelsea, who finished 10th in the Premier League last season, failed to qualify for Europe and it was suggested to Conte that would be an advantage, but the Italian begged to differ.

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“But Manchester United played yesterday and I watched the game,” he said to reporters. “I saw maybe four players who will probably start on Sunday.

“Also, when you have this possibility to play Champions League or Europa League, you can give the chance also to other players who every day in training work very hard.

“I don’t want this type of advantage. This means you don’t play in the Champions League or Europa League. I think Chelsea must play during the week this type of tournament.

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“Chelsea, this season, can’t do this. This is not an advantage.”

After back-to-back league defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, Chelsea go into Sunday’s clash having won against Hull City and Leicester City in their last two outings and Conte highlighted the importance of continuing that progress when United visit.

“It’s important – very important,” he added. “It’s important to continue this way. The last game we beat a good team who, last season, won the title.

“This was important. But this Sunday we are up against another great team.

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“I want to see progress compared to Liverpool and Arsenal. I am confident about this because I saw fantastic commitment this week.”

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