Chelsea's trip to Huddersfield on Tuesday will provide a prime, if not necessarily easy or straightforward opportunity for Chelsea to rebound from the weekend’s disappointing defeat at West Ham. The newly promoted Terriers won’t be pushovers, but as both Conte and Azpilicueta have elucidated recently, a proper response from Chelsea is needed.
“Big teams, after a defeat, we have to answer in a strong way. We know it is a tough place. We have the character and hopefully we can get the three points.
“We are in December and we cannot think more than this. We have a tough game against Huddersfield, we will try to get the three points on the road and get back to winning ways and keep going, keep pushing.”
-Cesar Azpilicueta; source: Chelsea FC
With the squad getting a rest day on Sunday, Conte and the staff only have had one full day of training to work with the squad. That, combined with the busy fixture list will mean plenty of rotation for tomorrow night.
“It’s important to find the solution at this moment and not to look too far. There are many games and we have to find the solution early, and in this case it’s right to make rotations."
"We worked only today with the players that played against West Ham. For sure when you have to play after two days, you must be ready and smart to prepare for the game quickly."
"And then, I repeat: find the best solution for the team, especially because a lot of players are playing a lot of games. It means some are a bit tired. My task is to find the best solution and at the same time not lose our balance.”
Conte has often been accused of not trusting his squad as much as he should, but he claims it’s all part of a plan. In fairness, Conte has also been accused of not finding the right balance and of changing things too much from one game to another — that’s part of the territory of being a football manager, unfortunately, judged wholly by results with little regard for circumstances, processes, or methods.
"I am very happy to work with my players. It’s normal when you are creating a base, you must have to have patience to work, especially with new players. New players need a bit of time to adapt to our idea of football, to adapt themselves to this league. it’s not simple, but the most important thing is to have the will to work and improve every day."
"We faced last season with only 13 players. This season we tried to add two or three players, and to have 16 senior players to face every competition. When you are starting a path, you must have patience, and then to build and bring in one or two players. It’s not simple to face all the competitions in a moment you are building."
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
What does that mean for tomorrow?
Starts for Rudiger and Drinkwater, who’ve sat out the last two games, and hopefully Batshuayi as well, who’s recovered from his ankle injury to look useful against Atletico as a late substitute. Whether Batshuayi plays in a two-man or three-man attack could be a key decision — we’ve assumed that Bats would look best in a two-striker system, but both Pedro and Willian are in need of starts, so perhaps a 3-4-3 would make more sense.
Courtois | Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Kante, Drinkwater, Moses | Pedro, Batshuayi, Willian
The WAGNH community’s preference is firmly on the side of 3-4-3 as well, but with a more first-choice look to it in midfield and attack.
Courtois (90%) | Rudiger (84%), Christensen (96%), Azpilicueta (96%) | Alonso (67%), Kante (95%), Fabregas (64%), Moses (89%) | Hazard (81%), Morata (56%), Pedro (56%)