Antonio Conte: Chelsea boss laughs off points deduction claim

Antonio Conte after Manchester City's midfielder Fernandinho is sent off
Conte appeared to try to calm the situation after Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho was sent off in the Premier League game between the sides on 3 December

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has laughed off suggestions his side could face a Premier League points deduction.

The Blues and Manchester City have been charged with failing to control their players during their 3 December game.

After previous incidents, a Football Association appeal board warned Chelsea in July that "the time cannot be too far distant when... the only proper sanction is a points deduction".

Asked about the possibility, Conte said: "Are you joking? Are you joking?"

Chelsea have been fined five times by the FA for failing to control their players since February 2015.

The Premier League leaders were originally fined a record £375,000 following three charges resulting from the 2-2 draw with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in May.

An appeal board reduced Chelsea's fine to £290,000 but referenced the club's "lamentable recent record for failing properly to control its players".

The last top-flight teams to be docked points for disciplinary issues were Manchester United and Arsenal following a brawl at Old Trafford in October 1990.

Chelsea fines

The charges for Chelsea and Manchester City follow the mass fracas in the 95th minute of the game at Etihad Stadium, which Chelsea won 3-1.

City had forward Sergio Aguero and midfielder Fernandinho sent off.

"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," added Conte after his side's 1-0 win over West Brom on Sunday, which took them back to the top of the Premier League.

"We are trying to improve in all aspects. For this reason, I reply: 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."

The FA commission which ruled on the charges that followed the Tottenham game said Chelsea's record of failing to control their players was "abysmal" and that "there is a recidivist nature to the club's offending".

The commission said it considered imposing a points deduction then but decided not to, with one of the reasons given that Chelsea have yet to receive "a final warning that such transgressions simply cannot continue if a future regulatory commission is not to resort to other more draconian penalties".

Chelsea, along with Tottenham, were warned as to their future conduct but there was no mention in the commission's report of a "final warning" for the Blues.

Costa 'showing passion in the right way'

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte congratulates Diego Costa
Diego Costa matched his total from 2015-16 with his 12th league goal of the season against West Brom

Meanwhile, Conte said Chelsea striker Diego Costa "is showing his passion in the right way" after scoring his 12th league goal of the season to see off a stubborn West Brom side at Stamford Bridge.

Costa was booked four times in his first seven games of the season but has not been shown a yellow card in his past 10 league and cup appearances for the Blues.

If he is cautioned in Chelsea's next four games he will receive a one-match ban, as the cut-off date for a suspension after accumulating five bookings is 31 December.

"January is arriving, no? It's incredible," said Conte of Costa's run without any bookings.

"If you ask my why in the past I don't know. But now if you ask me about Diego I can talk well about his work-rate, commitment and behaviour.

"For me, it's fantastic. I always say to my players, 'stay focused on the pitch'. I don't like the provocation. I want to have players with great behaviours."

Costa was booked nine times in domestic matches in 2014-15, his first season at Chelsea, and was shown eight more last season, plus a red card in the FA Cup defeat against Everton in March.

His punishment for that dismissal at Goodison Park was a two-game ban, with an additional one-match suspension for his reaction to the red card.

Costa has also served retrospectively awarded three-match bans for stamping on Liverpool's Emre Can in a League Cup semi-final in January 2015, and violent conduct in altercations with Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel in September 2015.

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