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Conte happy with Batshuayi progress and improvement, but doesn’t guarantee start against Crystal Palace


Atletico Madrid v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Chelsea are without Álvaro Morata for today’s game at Selhurst Park, and while our leading goalscorer is possibly ready to return midweek in the Champions League against AS Roma, there is a decent chance those hopes are just a bit too hopeful and his hamstring injury needs more time. That should mean more (hashtag) minutes for Michy, though it could also mean more Eden Hazard at center forward, which is sometimes an okay idea, but sometimes not so much.

Of course, part of the problem is that Batshuayi at center forward isn’t guaranteed to be an okay idea either, despite spending well over a year now training and playing under Conte. But the Chelsea boss seems happy, at least in public, with the 24-year-old’s progress, even if he’s not ready to guarantee a start for him today.

“I think if you compare Michy with last season he has improved a lot and he understood this league because it is not simple. He understood our style of football but he is another young player and he is working very hard to improve.

“This season he is finding many opportunities to play in the Champions League, in the league, to come on during the game, and to start the game. If you remember last season he had few opportunities to play but this season he is playing a lot and the most important thing is to show he is improving.

“Also don't forget as a striker I can utilise Hazard. Last season we played two games with Hazard as a No.9, alongside Willian and Pedro. If I see a game where this is the solution I am ready to do that again but Michy is deserving to have opportunities to show he can play.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Goal

Thanks in part to his hat-trick in the League Cup as well as a few goals while coming off the bench, Batshuayi is scoring at an unsustainable rate of one goal every 60 or so minutes. Much like Palace’s winless streak, those statistics will eventually revert to some sort of more reasonable mean ... just hopefully not today.

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