Antonio Conte has been talking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s Community Shield match against Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday.
The two teams have already played each other once in pre-season, and Chelsea came out on top on that occasion with a 3-0 win. However, the last time the two clubs played at Wembley in May was of course a 2-1 win for the Gunners, a scoreline that very much flattered the Blues, and Arsenal will be looking for a repeat of this in the season opener.
Victor Moses and Laurent Koscielny will be available, since Community Shield matches aren’t included in suspensions and are considered “non-competitive”, as demonstrated when Branislav Ivanovic didn’t receive a suspension for his red card against Manchester City in the 2012 edition of the shield.
However, clearly no-one told Conte that the match isn’t considered competitive, as he stated “this is the first trophy of the season. It’s an important game,” showing that Chelsea clearly intend to take the curtain raiser seriously.
On the other side of things in terms of availability, Conte told the media that Hazard and Bakayoko will not be fit and ready for the match.
Hazard put in a quality performance against Spurs in the semi-final last season, but was largely ineffective in the final against Arsenal.
However it will still be a boost to the Arsenal team, after his goal-of-the-season contender against the Gunners in the league earlier in the year.
Meanwhile we still don’t know how Bakayoko is going to fit in, but if nothing else the Chelsea midfield will have a reduced physical presence with Matic gone and Bakayoko unavailable to replace him.
Finally Conte said that he hopes for a good game, and on this I think we’re all agreed. As long as Arsenal win, that is.