LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea are trying to stick to the methods that won them the Premier League last season but have had to cut down training by 70 percent because of playing in Europe, manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.
Some players are reported to feel that training is too hard and too frequent, now that Champions League commitments mean they are playing two games in most weeks.
They have lost to Manchester City and then bottom club Crystal Palace in the last two league games, as well as losing a two-goal lead in Wednesday’s 3-3 Champions League draw at home to Roma.
That has caused questions to be asked inside and outside the club about preparation and the high number of injuries being picked up.
“I don’t know about that,” Conte told a news conference. “I have my methods the same as last season when we won the league.
“But we are working maybe 70 percent less this season because we play every three days,” added the Italian, whose men were not involved in Europe last season.
“To play every game with the same players is a big problem. It’s impossible for them to work, except for the games.”
Conte has been handicapped by a crop of injuries to players like N’Golo Kante, Victor Moses and Alvaro Morata. David Luiz and Tiemoue Bakayoko were hurt in the Roma game and midfielder Danny Drinkwater, signed from Leicester City in the close-season, has not played at all because of thigh and calf problems.
The manager was unable to say who will be fit to face Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Defender Gary Cahill, however, is expected to be available despite having stitches in a chin wound and finishing the Roma match swathed in a huge bandage.
A win would take Chelsea back above Marco Silva’s Watford, who surprisingly sit in fourth place with only one defeat in their eight league games.
That was a 6-0 mauling at home by a rampant Manchester City, but they have recovered well with seven points out of nine since then.
Last season they pushed Chelsea hard at Stamford Bridge before losing 4-3 in the penultimate game of the campaign as the London side celebrated having secured the title in Conte’s first season.
Defeat meant they have not beaten Chelsea in the last 13 meetings in all competitions.
“Watford did a very good transfer market,” Conte said. “The game will be very tough but after two defeats in the league we want to come back and win.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar