Chelsea, England: Chelsea are hopeful that John Terry will be able to return from an ankle injury for the derby at Arsenal on Saturday as Antonio Conte targets “a big week” as he seeks a reaction after enduring his first defeat as manager. Terry strained the ligaments in the joint late on in the draw with Swansea City this month and, having missed the 2-1 home defeat by Liverpool, will also sit out the League Cup tie at Leicester City on Tuesday.
But the 35-year-old has played a part in full training with his teammates at Cobham and, while he will be absent at the Kingpower stadium, he is on target to return to the side at the Emirates stadium.
Meanwhile, Cesc Fabregas remains part of my Chelsea plans, insists Antonio Conte.
“John is recovering,” Conte said. “I saw him outside today and he is recovering. After this game [against Leicester] we’ll see his physical condition. It’s a big week because we face two very strong teams.
“Leicester won the title last season and, this season, they’ve shown they are a very good team, also in the Champions League. Arsenal are a great team that will fight for the title so it’s a big week but we are ready.
“We know we have to work to improve because I know we can improve a lot, this is important.”
Conte made clear his frustrations post-match on Friday after watching too many of his players revert to last season’s bad habits as Liverpool prevailed at Stamford Bridge. Those sentiments are understood to have been shared by the club’s hierarchy, with the owner Roman Abramovich having witnessed the defeat first-hand from his box up in the west stand. He left the ground in the small hours of Saturday morning still digesting the loss.
Yet the manager, who will hand the £20 million (Dh95.7 million) left-back Marcos Alonso a debut at Leicester, has been encouraged by his squad’s reaction in training in the period since.
“It’s been a good response,” he told Chelsea TV. “We are disappointed about the defeat against Liverpool because we gave away two goals and it was our first defeat of the season, but during training I’ve seen the right intensity, the right commitment from the players and, now, we have a very tough game against Leicester. We are ready.
“The spirit is good because we analysed the game together and we’ve seen the positive things and the bad things. It’s important to restart and find a good spirit. I have given the players the same message that I gave after the game: that when you concede two goals in this way — after a free-kick and throw-in — we must pay attention in every moment of the game.
“You must pay attention to details because details change results.”