LONDON — Antonio Conte said David Luiz should have been awarded a free kick moments before being sent off for a lunge on Sead Kolasinac in the final minutes of Chelsea’s goalless draw against Arsenal.
Luiz, booked earlier in the match for catching Laurent Koscielny’s face with an attempted bicycle kick, was shown a straight red card by referee Michael Oliver in the 87th minute after his studs made contact with Kolasinac’s ankle on the halfway line in front of both dugouts.
The Brazil international is the third Chelsea player to be red carded in five Premier League matches this season — the Blues had just two men sent off in all competitions in the whole of the 2016-17 campaign — but Conte played down suggestions that his team has developed a problem with discipline.
“You know very well that I don’t like to comment on refereeing decisions,” Conte said of the incident. “It is in the past. Now the only thing I can say is it is very important to see what happened before the David Luiz tackle.”
Asked if he was referring to the pressure applied on Luiz by Alexis Sanchez immediately prior to the lunge on Kolasinac, he added: “For sure, that was a foul. For sure. But, I repeat, the referee took this decision. If he stopped the play before, it wouldn’t matter.
“Do you think we are becoming bad? For sure, it’s strange, no? A strange situation. But in normal situations we have to improve. In tactical situations, physical situations, you need to try and improve. Also, you have to be more lucky in the future.
“I was a player and I think it can happen, this type of period, if you are not so lucky and receive red cards.
“In the end, we’ll try to pay more attention in the future. I hope, also, to be more lucky with the refereeing decisions — for us, and also for the opponents. Sometimes [this season] the opponents deserved a red card but, instead, they carry on playing with 11 men.”
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Luiz is now set to miss Chelsea’s next three domestic matches, ruling him out of Manchester City’s visit to Stamford Bridge at the end of September, and Conte would not be drawn on whether his suspension would be appealed.
Arsenal are the first opponents to prevent Chelsea scoring in 24 Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge, and Conte admitted a draw was the fairest result.
“I think the performance was a good performance,” he insisted. “When you play this type of game, a massive game, you know very well anything can happen. We tried to win. Both teams tried to win, and created chances to score. I think, finally, it was a good draw.
“We started the game very well in the first 20 minutes, and then we suffered a bit in the middle of the first half.
“But sometimes you forget Arsenal are one of the top six [teams] in England and, for this reason, we all know the type of game that we would face against them. Arsenal are a really good team, a strong team.
“They have a lot [of quality] all over the field. It’s normal to find this type of situation when they are dangerous.”