Chelsea boss Antonio Conte insists it would be laughable should his title-hunting side be slapped with a points deduction following the mass brawl which marred their victory at Manchester City last week.
Both clubs have been charged by the Football Association with failing to control their players – Chelsea’s fifth such indiscretion in 19 months – after Sergio Aguero’s wild lunge at David Luiz sparked multiple scuffles.
The Stamford Bridge club’s previous penalty, dished out in the aftermath of May’s clash with Tottenham, included the future threat of a loss of points should they be handed a similar sanction.
Such a punishment would prove a bitter blow to Chelsea who returned to the Premier League summit after Diego Costa’s goal stoked a gritty win over belligerent West Brom. Conte, meanwhile, poured scorn on the prospect of a points reduction.
“For me, if you are involved in a situation and the fault is not yours, you must pay? Why? I don’t understand this,” said Conte, whose side would be the first top-flight team since Manchester United and Arsenal in 1990 to lose points for disciplinary reasons.
“Manchester City and Chelsea, at the end of the game, my players tried to keep their calm. I don’t understand this. I repeat, I don’t understand this.
“We are trying to improve in all aspects, also this. For this reason, I reply that you must be joking. You must be honest and understand which team is at fault. We had a bad record in the past, but now we are different.
“I think that, in every game, you fight a lot during 90 minutes and, when the referee whistles at the end, it’s important to finish. I don’t know what happened in the past. I know what happened in the present.
“For this reason, I ask if you are joking or not? After the game between City and Chelsea, you could see very clearly that my players tried to keep their calm.”
Costa handed Chelsea their ninth successive league win after robbing West Brom centre-half Gareth McAuley wide on the right flank in the 76th minute, advancing on goal and curling superbly past Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster.
That strike was the Spaniard’s 12th of the campaign, scoring form which could see the Blues break the all-time Premier League winning run of 13 matches which is currently held by Arsenal, not that Conte is interested in mid-season milestones.
“I’m not interested in the record,” added Conte, whose team have moved three points ahead of the Gunners. “I’m interested in gaining three points in every game because that means we can stay top of the table and fight for something important.”