Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has called on his players not to be drawn into the sort of feuds that marred last season’s dramatic home game against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur when the teams meet at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
A feisty 2-2 draw featuring nine yellow cards in May ended Tottenham’s title hopes after they had led 2-0 at halftime, bringing fines for both clubs for failing to control their players.
“Our attitude and behaviour must be perfect,” said Conte, who has occasionally sparked controversy with his own antics on the touchline.
“Every manager has a different attitude during the game but it’s important to respect opponents and fans,” he told a news conference on Friday.
“I’m pushing my players to be focused. Passion is right but not in a bad way. It’s important to play good football to win the game.”
Chelsea have been doing that recently, climbing to the top of the table last weekend with six successive wins while scoring 17 goals without conceding any.
The last team to find their net were Arsenal almost 10 hours ago.
Spurs have not won at Stamford Bridge since 1990 – two years before the Premier League began – but they are the last unbeaten team in the league this season with six wins and six draws.
“Tottenham can create great difficulty for any team in this league, and can fight until the end to win the title,” Conte added.
He may select an unchanged team for the sixth successive game after revealing that club captain John Terry has picked up a new injury and will be out for another two or three weeks.
In his absence Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta have proved unbeatable as the three-man defence that Conte introduced following successive defeats by Liverpool and Arsenal in September.