Antonio Conte has no fresh injury worries ahead of tomorrow’s game and the boss reported an excellent week’s training in preparation for another stern test of our credentials.
Everton come to west London two places and four points below us in the table after an encouraging start under Ronald Koeman, and Conte discussed the threat they pose at his press conference at Cobham today.
The boss also spoke about a few our players individually, as well as the team’s confidence as a whole, but first up came the latest injury news.
‘This week Cesc Fabregas and Kurt Zouma started to train with the team,’ Conte revealed.
‘It’s normal when you start playing after a long period of rest you need to find the best form and shape, and after the international break I think they will be available for selection.
‘I’m pleased for Cesc, he is important for us, and also for Kurt. He played two games with the Under-23s and he will play another game on Tuesday with them. His recovery is very good and we are satisfied with this. Now we hope he can stay with us for the rest of the season.’
Zouma will feature against Oxford at Stamford Bridge next week in the EFL Trophy, a game for which tickets are available.
Conte dismissed talk of Fabregas moving on loan in January and stressed he was looking forward to welcoming him back to the squad soon.
Regarding his selection tomorrow, Conte noted how hard it is to change a winning team but pointed out he has another day to decide if he will do so for the visit of Everton.
‘They’re very dangerous. Last season we didn’t beat Everton. It’s important to remember this, me and my players, and our fans. Tomorrow I am waiting for the great support of our fans.
‘We know we face a strong team with many good players, fast players, with good technique. We must pay great attention. We have worked very well this week to prepare for this kind of game against this type of team.
‘When you win, and above all win playing good football, it’s important for the confidence. You come to Cobham with the right spirit and with a good will to work very hard. You support the fatigue better when you win. Also you enjoy the football you are playing. Now, I repeat, we must continue.’
One man certainly enjoying his football at the moment is David Luiz, and Conte explained his excellent recent showings have not come as a surprise.
‘I knew David Luiz as a good defender and a good player with a great personality. We are working with him and the other defenders a lot, to create the right solidity defensively.
‘He has won a lot in his career but he must continue to win. For this reason, he is in Chelsea now. Me and the club trusted him.
‘I knew the right value of him, and he is showing this. His way to play is good for him, but I know we can improve, not only a single player but as a team, defensively and in offensive situations.’
Conte also highlighted the good form of Diego Costa, describing him as a ‘complete player’. When asked about the man likely to be leading the line for the Toffees tomorrow, Romelu Lukaku, Conte said he preferred to talk about his own striker, but he did acknowledge the Belgian's threat in attack.
John Mikel Obi has not been involved so far this season and Conte was asked what the future held for him. His contract expires next summer.
‘It’s normal in every squad there are players that arrive at the end of their contract and then together with the club take a decision.
‘For me the most important thing is that Mikel is working very well now, because in the past he had some injuries. Now he is working very hard and I’m pleased with his work-rate.’