Antonio Conte has said that Marcus Alonso's opening goal in Chelsea's 3-1 win over Arsenal is not a foul in English football, despite Hector Bellerin having to be substituted after being elbowed in the face as the pair battled for the ball.
Chelsea took the lead in the 13th minute at Stamford Bridge when Diego Costa's header bounced up in the air after striking the crossbar and Alonso rose higher than Bellerin to head the ball into the empty net, though the Blues wing-back also caught his fellow Spaniard.
Bellerin landed heavily and was substituted soon afterwards with suspected concussion, while further goals from Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas earned Chelsea a convincing victory over their rivals despite Olivier Giroud's late consolation header.
After the match Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports that Chelsea's first goal was "100 percent a foul," but Conte was adamant that such a level of physical contact is normal and acceptable in England -- though he admitted that Alonso might have been penalised in Serie A.
"In England, in this league, this is always a goal," Conte said. "Excuse me but I can't listen in England that this is a foul, because I'm surprised to hear this. Alonso jumped more than Bellerin and scored the goal. To hear this in England, I'm surprised. In Italy, maybe -- I must be honest. Maybe."
When Wenger's assessment was put to him, Conte replied: "I understand because when it happens against you, but for me this is a correct decision. We see a lot of these situations in England and it's normal.
"If we were in another country maybe we can have a conversation about this, yes or no. But here I don't think it's right to talk about this."
Chelsea's win moved them 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League with 14 matches of the season left to play, but while both Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Wenger have now conceded that the title is the leaders' to lose, Conte is adamant that his players will not get ahead of themselves.
"There are 14 games to play before we end the season, 42 points to take," Conte added. "For sure today it was important to win against our rival for the title.
"When you have this type of situation you must exploit [it], but it's not easy because Arsenal showed again today that they are a great team with great players. If you don't play with good organisation, with good talent and will to fight, to work together offensively and defensively from the start of the game, you risk to lose. Instead we worked very well.
"I don't slip, and I don't want my players to slip. It's important, this. In my squad I have a lot of players with good experience because they won a lot in their careers, and they know that until now we haven't won the title.
"It's important to know this, and to keep our antenna very high because in my career as a footballer I won a lot but I lost a lot. When you lose three Champions League finals and win only one, I think you have a great hunger.
"Also during my experience as a footballer I won a title with eight points more [than the other team] four games from the end, and another time I lost in the same way. For this reason I think I have a bit of experience to manage this situation and keep our antenna very high."