The unfortunate part of Chelsea's 11th straight win in the Premier League, earned on Saturday against Crystal Palace, was Diego Costa and N'Golo Kanté picking up their fifth yellow cards of the season. As a result, both key players of Antonio Conte's 3-4-3 system will have to miss Chelsea's next game, against AFC Bournemouth at home on Boxing Day.
Costa and Kanté have started all of our Premier League games thus far this season, but Nemanja Matić is confident that Chelsea will be fine without their presence.
"We don't have Diego [Costa] and [N'Golo] Kanté for the next game. We will have to cope with that. We have situations like this during the season and also the other teams will have their own problems."
"We will have to continue, even though they are important players for us. The next game we play at home so we have to give our best to take all three points."
"Everyone [in the squad] is important, as we know in football, because you never know who is going to play the next game. I am very happy because you can see in training everyone is physically ready and they are going to be important for us."
-Nemanja Matic; source: Goal
Moments like these are bound to happen throughout a season, but they can also be great opportunities for others to impress. Pedro, for example, took just such an opportunity when he was handed a start due to Willian's bereavement leave earlier this season. Whoever will be chosen to fill in Diego's and Kanté's shoes will have a tough task to replicate those two's impact, but fortunately we also have a coach in charge whose every decision is turning to gold right now.
"...the team is strong and is concentrating in every part of the game. As you see against Crystal Palace, they had some dangerous action but we all stayed together on the pitch and we follow the ideas of our coach and this the result."
"We can improve of course. Sometimes when we are 1-0 up we have to find a way to kill the game because 1-0 in the Premier League against a team like Crystal Palace is very dangerous, because they can score at any time, they have good attacking players so I am sure that we can improve and that he [Conte] knows what we have to do in the future."
In Conte we trust. Just don't call us favorites for the title.
"It is a long way to go. We are now almost halfway through the season and we still have many hard games so we are not favourites, we are just one of the teams that can now win the title and I am sure there are more than five teams that will try to catch us for first position."
-Nemanja Matić; source: Chelsea FC