Antonio Conte met the media a few hours ago to preview Sunday’s blockbuster clash at Stamford Bridge against Liverpool, and we have video of the entire session for you below via YouTube.
Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, the remarkable season that he’s having and his brief tenure at Chelsea came up during Q&A. The Italian made it absolutely clear that the gross miscalculation to let the Egyptian leave was not up to him. Salah’s sale to Roma didn’t occur under his regime, and Conte laughed off the idea that it had.
Asked if he had any impact on Salah’s jettisoning to Roma, Conte responded:
“No, no. I have never spoken about Salah (to his bosses at the club) because the situation was very, very clear.”
“No-one asked me about him. If you put also this on me, I’m in trouble… Put that on the person who has to take the responsibility,” he said with a smile.”
The topic of who let Salah leave Chelsea came up last week too, as Conte’s predecessor, Jose Mourinho, gave a very long rant explaining that it was not his fault the PFA Player of the Year was able to exit the west London Club. Mourinho also took credit for bringing the Egyptian to Chelsea in 2014, and blamed the club board as the responsible party for jettisoning the Egyptian in 2016.
Antonio Conte also took time to extol the virtues of Mo Salah during this presser.
“I think this season for Salah is a fantastic season. For sure we are talking about a real good player. I knew him when he played in Italy. But… this type of season, it would be very difficult to predict,” he added.
This is a match with a lot of consequence on the top four, and with it Champions League qualification for next season. Conte discussed the opportunity.
“We are talking about a player with specific characteristics, technical but also very fast. This season I am seeing him [being] very clinical. Every chance [he has], he takes the opportunity.”
“This could be a good opportunity for us, but as I have said a lot of times, if we want to keep our hopes alive we have to win. Liverpool are a good team and it won’t be easy.”
“We must pay great attention. Their first leg against Roma showed that if you give them space behind the defensive line they are dangerous. You could have trouble during the game,” the Italian coach said.
“They have three special players in (Sadio) Mane, (Roberto) Firmino and (Mohamed) Salah. They are very good at attacking the space. We must be compact and prepare in the right way.”
Jurgen Klopp press conference video, notable quotables: Go to this link
Liverpool Starting XI Prediction: go to this link
Chelsea Starting XI Prediction: go to this link
Injury, Fitness, Team News for both sides: go to this link
Betting Odds: Chelsea FC win: 23/20 Liverpool win: 9/4 Draw: 5/2
Prediction: Chelsea FC 4, Liverpool 3
As always, feel free to post your own starting XIs and/or final score predictions in the comments section below.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.
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