Chelsea advanced to the 4th round of the FA Cup on Sunday after a comfortable 4-1 win over lower league Peterborough United. Antonio Conte made no less than nine changes to his starting lineup, giving chances to youngsters Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah, Kurt Zouma, and Michy Batshuayi, as well as Ola Aina off the bench. It’s not always easy for new players to come into a much changed and cobbled-together side, but all the youngsters did really well today.
Conte says it is fantastic to have Zouma back and he praises the performances of Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi and Aina. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 8, 2017
There have been plenty of questions over the futures of both Batshuayi and Loftus-Cheek, with both players increasingly linked to loan moves away from the club for the second half of the season. Conte however wants to keep both of them.
Conte says Batshuayi today showed great work-rate and fitted into the way he wants the team to play. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 8, 2017
Conte says it was important for Batshuayi's confidence that he scored and now he must continue in this way. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 8, 2017
Antonio Conte says he wants to keep Ruben Loftus-Cheek at Chelsea - full interview to come later pic.twitter.com/81iQjhYUjI— Ian Abrahams (Moose) (@BroadcastMoose) January 8, 2017
Conte has in fact been looking for ways to boost the numbers in his squad, which has led to the recall of Nathan Aké from AFC Bournemouth. Aké has done really well at the Cherries lately, not to mention the options that he provides with his versatility.
Conte says Nathan Ake has been recalled from loan because he has shown he deserves to be in the Chelsea squad. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 8, 2017
Conte says Ake could play in the back three or midfield and he will look in training to see if he could also play wing-back. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 8, 2017
The trio will no doubt play in the next round of the FA Cup later this month (opponent to be determined in Monday night’s draw), but hopefully they’ll get some chances in the Premier League as well.