Chelsea’s Champions League absence could help EPL chances: Conte

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London, Aug 1 (IANS) Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has said that he wants to take advantage of the club’s Champions League absence and sharpen their English Premier League title challenge in the forthcoming season.

Chelsea finished 10th last season, a campaign which cost Jose Mourinho his position as manager in December before Guus Hiddink steadied the ship for the second half of the season.

Conte has since been recruited as head coach, having guided Italy to the quarter-finals of European Championship 2016 following three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus.

“Not playing in the Champions League could be an opportunity because I will be able to work more with my players. If you ask me if I prefer this situation, I don’t because Chelsea must be in this competition,” Conte was quoted as saying by London Evening Standard on Monday.

“You do feel like you’re missing something when you’re not involved in the Champions League. It is a special competition and you want to play in it every year.”

The former Juventus manager added that absence from the high profile competition will give him time to train with his players more compared to previous Chelsea managers.

“But because we are not, I will have a whole week to train with my players and that gives me a chance to work with them more compared to Chelsea managers in previous seasons,” he added.

Chelsea begin their EPL campaign at home against West Ham United on August 15.

–IANS

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