Antonio Conte believes Chelsea can not afford to drop any more points in their pursuit of a top-four Premier League finish, starting against Crystal Palace this evening. After the training session he passed out briefly in the dressing room. And Conte insists there have been no ill-effects this week. 'He trained the whole week. "He's in good form".
"Last week, on Friday, it was very cold". But it was all clear.
Martin Kelly's own goal doubled Chelsea's advantage before half-time and while former Blues youngster Patrick van Aanholt's late strike led to an anxious finale, Conte's men held on to keep pressure on Liverpool and Tottenham in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League. Coming in 2-0 down against a team of Chelsea's quality, and not least of all their pace and power on the counter-attack, it was always going to be very hard, and a repeat of the first half performance could have ended extremely badly for us.
"Olivier has specific characteristics; he's a strong player, he has a lot of physicality and I think in some games it's right to start with him, in others it's right to start with Morata, in others it's right to continue to play with Hazard as the number nine".
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We proved during the first-leg stalemate with La Liga heavyweights Barcelona a couple of weeks ago that we are able to go toe-to-toe with the best in the world, even if we are not playing our best football domestically.
Antonio Conte's side have been roundly criticised for their defensive approach during that fixture, in which they were happy to concede possession and territory to the champions-elect. The Blues have lost twice in a row while the Eagles have not won a Premier League match since triumphing 1-0 against Burnley on January 13, 2018. When you play against City there is the possibility to lose the game.
"(But) our confidence is normal".
Townsend was my key man when Palace took on Manchester United and he was clearly one of the most risky players for Crystal Palace with his experience and pace into the final third.
Antonio Conte readdressed the situation, stating that there are certain matches where the manager feels Hazard's presence upfront adds much to Chelsea's attacks.