Chelsea had little trouble in taking on and soundly beating Championship side Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, sandwiching a poor 20 second half minutes with two goals each to complete the 4-0 victory.
As in the previous round, Conte opted for a much-changed lineup, and the Chelsea head coach was satisfied with the performance of all the new and old faces.
"It was a good result for us. When you win 4-0 it’s a good result, and when you score many goals and you don’t concede. In this case Asmir Begovic was very good, he made two good saves."
"I must be pleased because when you change nine players you can see all the players, all the squad are totally involved in our idea of football, our project. That’s very important."
"This competition until now has been an opportunity for me to put players in that are not playing a lot in this period for us. It was also very important to see the right reply of these players and it happened. I’m very happy."
"We have to try to arrive at the end of the competition if we are able. If we win we will deserve this. We are ready to fight. We will see the draw - I hope to play the next game at home again."
Veterans such as John Terry and Cesc Fàbregas, as well as Pedro and Willian, were sprinkled in the starting lineup among all the youngsters: Kurt Zouma, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the recently recalled from loan Nathan Aké were all entrusted from the start, while Brazilian winger turned left wing-back Kenedy made his first appearance of the season as a substitute (thus confirming that he’s staying with the club the rest of the season!).
Using the FA Cup as an occasion for our young players to showcase their talents, Conte liked what he saw from them.
"Our young players are growing and it’s very important for the club. We only have the league and the FA Cup. The FA Cup is a good opportunity to see these young players and their improvement. I am satisfied with what I saw today. They are very important for the club."
"If they deserve to play I am ready to put them in the team. I am not scared of young players. The only thing I ask is that they are ready to play."
Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi, technically also a youngster, was once again relentless in his efforts to impress the Chelsea boss. He eventually got what he was cruelly denied a couple times earlier when he converted a penalty kick for Chelsea’s fourth. Conte was obviously paying attention.
"To score a goal is always important for a player, above all a forward. [Michy Batshuayi's] performance was good, I saw great commitment, he worked very hard for the team, for sure he is improving step by step."
"He is increasing his knowledge about our idea of football, our philosophy. It’s important now he continues to work and shows us the right commitment and will to improve."
There was special praise for non-youngster Pedro as well, who’s having a rather remarkable season for the club, not just in terms of goalscoring (5th goal in his last 6 games!) but in terms of playing yet another new position: right wing-back.
"We are finding out a great player that can play in different positions. To see [Pedro] as a wing-back is not usual, like [Victor] Moses at the start of the season. It shows me he has great commitment, form and quality."
"Pedro plays very well as a wing-back or as a winger. Now I have a problem for Tuesday!"
After this fun little diversion, it’s time for Chelsea to refocus on the league. Liverpool are up next — they lost again at home, their third consecutive home defeat — and they will be more than motivated to right their fast-sinking ship.
"To win away against Liverpool is never easy. We have only two days to prepare. When we played against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, we lost the game, the only game we have lost here."
"It’s important to understand the real value of this team. It’s a really tough game, an important game. After this game there will be 15 games to finish the season. Liverpool are a team who can fight until the end to win the title."
"Only through work can dreams happen. For us to stay on top of the league is a dream. If you remember our start, now we are doing very well."
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
Back to work!