Stoke City are facing a bit of a defensive crisis, but to underestimate them because of that would be a grave mistake. After all, they are unbeaten at home this season, having already beat Arsenal and held Manchester United to a draw, and have plenty of talented attacking players with whom to put pressure on the Chelsea defence. As ever, the Blues will have to pay great attention and stay disciplined (no more red cards!).
“It will be a real tough game. They won against Arsenal and drew with Manchester United which means they are a really good team. We must pay great attention but we are preparing very well.”
“The most important thing is to go game by game. Tomorrow it will be really tough and we must be prepared in the tactical and physical aspect, be disciplined. We are working very well and I’m pleased with the commitment and behaviour of my players. Sometimes red cards can happen, I was a player so I understand this type of situation.”
Conte will have almost all his players available for the game, including Crash Bakayoko, with only midfielder Danny Drinkwater unable to take part. He’s expected to be back after the international break.
“All players are available for tomorrow apart from Drinkwater. He continues to work to try to recover from his injury. Bakayoko is fit. It was a manual accident but he’s fit and available for the Stoke game.”
Conte also confirmed that he now — finally! — considers Eden Hazard fully fit, which means that the Chelsea star could be making his first Premier League start of the season tomorrow. Of course, with tough games against Atletico Madrid and Manchester City coming up, managing Hazard’s time will be important.
“I’m pleased for Eden because in the last game he played very well. He played with great intensity. Now he has overcome his injury and we have to play three games so, yes, there is the possibility to pick him.”
Beyond the game itself, the big news around Chelsea Football Club is the deal reached for the transfer of Diego Costa. The four-month summer saga that began with a text message is now over, and even though there’s been plenty of angst and discord and even threats between the two sides, we appear to parting on amicable terms. Or at least as cordial as it’s possible given the situation and all that’s come before.
“I think on this issue, we want to thank him for what he did with this club and we wish him all the best for the future. Don’t forget, we won together last season. We want to thank him for his efforts last season with us, but not only last season, in the whole period he played for Chelsea.”
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
At Chelsea, we’re all about looking forward rather than looking back, so as we thank Costa for all the seasonos (and goals), the important part is the three points on offer at Stoke and keeping pace with the Manchester clubs, who are the last two unbeaten teams in the league. United and City are in fact locked in a dead heat at the top of the table after five games, even on goals and goal difference, too. They face possibly tricky Southampton away and absolutely dire Crystal Palace at home, respectively.