Antonio Conte addressed the media in his customary pre-match press conference Friday morning — though the weekend is dedicated to the FA Cup rather than the Premier League — and beyond the usual answers to the usual questions, provided updates on the situations of several players.
First, the injuries. While David Luiz’s knee is supposedly “okay” and “much improved”, Conte confirmed that he will indeed be rested for this weekend. Marcos Alonso will be rested as well. Good. John Terry meanwhile is ready to go after getting stitches in his ankle last weekend. Everyone else is fit, which does provide an embarrassment of riches for this match against a second division side. In fact, with the sparse schedule, it sounds like we might get a slightly stronger team than the previous two rounds.
“When you have this type of game, at this moment, it’s very important to find the right balance. It could be a good opportunity to see some players who haven’t been playing a lot. It’s important to find the right balance and make the right choice.”
“I don’t want my players to stop for 14 days and then restart, which could be very dangerous. This competition is very important for us so we must reach the next round.”
While the usual Cup suspects like Chalobah and Loftus-Cheek and Batshuayi and Zouma will probably still play, more fringe players like Charly Musonda will not. What all that means for Kenedy (with Alonso rested) ... we’ll just have to wait and see.
“Charly Musonda is not in the squad, he’s working very hard and very well in training and he’s having supplementary work with the physical coach. Tomorrow he will play with the Under-23s against Man City. Now I think it’s better for him to play a whole game and stay with us. In the next games if he deserves to come with us I’m open to that eventuality.”
“The Academy is doing a really great job. In my squad we have a lot of young players from the Academy – Chalobah, Ake, Ruben, Aina - and it’s important to have a link between the first team and Academy. These young players have stayed with me because they deserve it, not because I want to give them a gift. In the future I hope to absorb many players from the Academy.”
One player who probabaly won’t be absorbed unfortunately is Dominic Solanke.
Conte says for now Dominic Solanke is a Chelsea player but he does not know about the player's future. He thinks his will is to leave. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 17, 2017
Cheerio, then, Dominic Solanke. So much promise. So little good advice. Wish him well, but all seems such a shame.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) February 17, 2017
There’s better news around Diego Costa however, which is good.
“I don’t know about this situation [a new contract for Diego Costa]. It’s very important to be focused on the present and not look too far ahead. At the end of the season we’ll see the situation. I’m confident [he wants to stay] but now it’s important to keep great concentration for the present, which is tomorrow’s game against Wolves. We must go into the next round.”
The main message remains the same as in the league. We must pay great attention, work hard, fight, and, of course, win!
“I like to win every competition in every season. For sure, it won’t be easy in the league or the FA Cup. If you ask me if I want to try to win both competitions, yes for sure. We must have this winning mentality. When you are a Chelsea coach or player you must have the ambition to win every competition you play.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC