Conte: Home improvements

Antonio Conte has spoken about his attacking options ahead of today’s game against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues go into the tea-time London derby aiming to get back to winning ways, and apply some pressure on those teams above us in the Premier League table, following consecutive defeats against the two Manchester clubs.

Conte wasn’t giving anything away in terms of his team selection, but when asked about the possibility of Olivier Giroud starting the game, he discussed the possible solutions.

‘He’s ready,’ Conte said. ‘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. Olivier played against West Brom from the start, he played against Hull and he came on in other games, but he’s ready.

‘If I think it’s right for the team to play in this way it’s okay, otherwise I can take another decision to play with a striker,’ he added, in response to a question regarding Hazard playing up front.

‘There are three players for two places, one has to go on the bench and I have to decide who.’

The visit of Roy Hodgson’s side is the first of three important fixtures in a nine-day period, with the second leg of our Champions League tie against Barcelona to follow on Wednesday, before we travel to Leicester in the FA Cup quarter-finals next Sunday.

Conte says there is always room for improvement, and the Italian believes it’s his job to make sure every member of the squad understands when mistakes have been made.

‘When I talk about improvements of the players in general, you can improve in different aspects, not only on the pitch in the tactical and technical aspects,’ he said. ‘You can improve in everything and usually you improve when you have made a mistake.

‘You have the opportunity to learn something and also to reflect on if you are making a mistake or not. But if there is nobody to tell you maybe you are making a mistake, it’s very difficult to understand if you are.’

Reflecting on last week’s game against Manchester City, when we were beaten by a Bernardo Silva goal early in the second half, Conte felt there were times when we had opportunities to cause the home side problems.

‘Compared to the game against Barcelona we were not so good in possession and we missed a lot of last passes,’ he said. ‘We have to improve in terms of personality when there is pressure from the opposition but the tactics were the same as against Barcelona.

‘We have to improve with the ball but despite this we had important situations but made a bad final decision, or the final ball was bad.’

CONTE: It's Important to Start With a Great Intensity