Antonio Conte gave an update on Eden Hazard’s fitness and also explained why the history books mean very little to him in his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s game at Crystal Palace.
The trip to Selhurst Park follows hot on the heels of the midweek win at Sunderland. That fact is very much in Conte’s mind as he considers who to pick tomorrow, with the media at Cobham keenest to find out if Hazard is an option. He missed the trip to Wearside with a small knee injury.
‘Yeah, I think he’s fit,’ Conte reported. ‘He trained today with us.
‘Then, I have to see if I decide to put Eden in the starting XI - not only him, but also for the other players. I have tonight to decide.
‘It’s not easy to play three games in six days. We played against Sunderland on Wednesday and got back at 4am. We have had only one day to prepare for the game and play again at 12.30.
‘For this reason, it’s important to see every single detail and then to take the best decision for tomorrow.’
Wednesday’s win was the first league game of the season Hazard has missed, and Conte highlighted the significance of his squad when some of our key players are unavailable.
‘Before with Eden we played a lot of games and we played very well, and then it can happen that a player has an injury. I hope when we have this type of situation the substitute plays very well.
‘I need all my players in every game and I repeat it’s important to have the possibility to choose, above all when we are in an emergency. Until now, we were lucky we haven’t had a lot of injuries.’
John Terry remains out and Conte was not able to put a timeframe on the skipper’s return.
On Oscar’s future, Conte stressed nothing had been confirmed yet and people must wait to discover the outcome.
As highlighted in our Pre-Match Briefing, there have been four previous instances of the Blues topping the table at Christmas, as we will this year irrespective of tomorrow’s result. Each time we went on to win the league.
‘I don’t like stats,’ Conte said when asked if that bodes well.
‘I prefer not to read them because you find a story. You have to write the new story. History doesn’t matter, above all this season. We started without great ambition from the people. This season is very difficult for us, but until now we are doing very well and we are a great surprise for many people. Now it’s important to continue to be this great surprise.’
Conte set a similar agenda when told a victory tomorrow would equal our club record sequence of 11 in a row in the league.
‘We have great motivation to take three points, this is the most important thing for us.
‘Then if we continue to win it’s fantastic. We will try for sure to win the game. We all know tomorrow will be another derby, it will be very tough against a good team, that now is not in a good position in the table, but I think the squad is very good.
‘There is no team in the world who is unbeatable. Now for us it’s very difficult, because when you play against another team they have nothing to lose. And for this reason they play with great intensity and aggression to try to beat a team who has 10 wins in a row.
‘In this league every game is always open,’ Conte added. ‘Anything can happen. You must go with great concentration and focus because you can lose against any team.
‘When you arrive with 10 wins at the minimum there is great respect for you. But I repeat this situation is a good situation for the opponent because they have nothing to lose. It’s more difficult for us to continue this way than for our opponent.’