Conte defends David Luiz tackle on Kolasinac

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has refused to be overly critical of David Luiz following his defender’s sending-off in Sunday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at home to Arsenal.

In a feisty clash at Stamford Bridge between two London rivals, both sides ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils although it was the Gunners who came closer to stealing the win, hitting the post via an Aaron Ramsey strike while also having a Shkodran Mustafi header correctly ruled out for offside.

The game was however marred by a straight red shown to Luiz, who can have no complaints after losing control of possession and lunging into a tackle, catching Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac with a dangerous challenge.

Referee Michael Oliver had no hesitation in issuing the Brazilian his marching orders, although Conte believes the incident could have been avoided had the official stopped play for an infringement just seconds earlier.

Referring to Alexis Sanchez niggling away at Luiz’s heels as he brought the ball down the right touchline, the Chelsea manager said: “You know very well that I don’t like to comment on referee decisions. I didn’t do this in the past and I don’t now.

“All I can say now is it is very important to see what happened before the David Luiz tackle; for sure there was a foul. The referee took this decision [to show a red card] but if he stops the play before, I think it doesn’t happen.

“There was a foul in a continuous way, they continued to push him [Luiz] and the referee, he has to use the whistle, but it happened and we look forward.”

Nonetheless, there was some good news for the Blues as Eden Hazard continued his return from injury with a promising 20-minute cameo after coming on as a second-half substitute, prompting suggestions he could feature from the start in their midweek Carabao Cup tie against Nottingham Forest.

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The last 20 minutes Hazard played very well,” added Conte.

“Now on Wednesday, he will have the possibility to start the game against Nottingham Forest and then to complete his recovery.

“We hope everything will be okay after this game.

Following Wednesday’s game against Forest, Chelsea return to league action with a trip to Stoke City.