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Antonio Conte explains decision not to start Michy Batshuayi against AFC Bournemouth

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Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Just about everybody was expecting Michy Batshuayi to start for Chelsea against AFC Bournemouth, so it came as a rather big surprise that Conte chose to go without “a real forward”. Instead of Batshuayi starting for the suspended Diego Costa, Chelsea lined up with all three inside forwards in the lineup, Eden Hazard as the nominal center forward with Pedro and Willian flanking him. It was fairly fluid of course, but it was also a different look than the usual setup of the 3-4-3.

“This is the first time we played without a real forward, we tried this in training and I think for us at the moment this situation is the best, but I don’t forget Michy [Batshuayi] because he is a young player with great talent.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard

Conte talked repeatedly ahead of the game about how Michy needed time to adapt and urged patience with the youngster with words that were perhaps aimed as much at him as the fans and media. In hindsight, it was obvious that Michy wasn’t going to play. Not yet anyway. In a familiar rhetoric from Conte, Batshuayi just needs to keep working hard and improve.

However, if you’re thinking loan, here’s Conte to dissuade you from any such notion.

So, time to work, time to improve, and hopefully get some minutes in the FA Cup in a couple weeks. Chin up, young’n.