|Antonio Conte defended Chelsea’s tactics in their 1-0 defeat by Manchester City on Sunday. — AFP Photo|Viet Nam News
MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Chelsea manager Antonio Conte defended his cautious approach despite his side failing to register a shot on target as they went down 1-0 to Premier League champions-elect Manchester City.
The Italian’s tactics were lambasted by pundits and Chelsea fans alike as he started without a recognised striker by leaving club-record signing Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud on the bench.
City moved 18 points clear at the top of the table, and 25 ahead of Chelsea in fifth, as Bernardo Silva’s goal 35 seconds into the second half broke the visitors’ resistance.
However, Conte claimed it would be "stupid" to open up against the runaway league leaders, citing criticism of Arsenal’s back-to-back 3-0 defeats to City in the League Cup final and Premier League in the past week.
"I’m not so stupid to play against Man City open and lose 3-0 or 4-0," said Conte.
"If I remember well, Arsenal three days ago played against them and you criticise (Arsene) Wenger because they concede three goals.
"I think the pundit has to use the head when you speak tactics because you must have the knowledge to speak about tactics."
Chelsea, though, had no response after going behind as Conte waited until 12 minutes from time to introduce Giroud, whilst Morata wasn’t brought on until the final minute when he replaced Chelsea’s top scorer Eden Hazard.
The Belgian ploughed a lonely furrow as an auxiliary central forward, but had no impact on the game before trudging off with his head bowed to make way for Morata.
"I try to wait because the (Morata) substitution was with (Eden) Hazard and you hope until the end that a player like Hazard can invent something in the game," added Conte. — AFP