Antonio Conte has set his sights on further progress in the Carabao Cup while continuing to give young players a chance after he saw the side he selected win what he described as a dangerous tie.
Against an Everton team under new management, Chelsea went ahead in the first half through Toni Rudiger and then earned some breathing space late on when Willian scored. The visitors to Stamford Bridge then halved the deficit almost immediately but without enough time left to snatch extra-time and prevent Chelsea going into tomorrow afternoon’s quarter-final draw…
‘The performance was very good in the first half when we created chances to score, and then in the second half we suffered a bit,’ began Conte’s verdict on the game.
‘But that is normal when you play against Everton. They are a good team and they have changed their coach and usually when this happens, the players want to try to give more. For this reason this game was very dangerous for us and I am very happy because tonight I saw a lot of positive things.’
He went on to explain one of those main positives was the performance of the young players he fielded from the start…
‘Tonight Charly Musonda, Kenedy and Ethan Ampadu played a good game and don’t forget Ampadu is only 17 years old. It is very important to trust in these players because they deserve to have this chance and I am very happy because I had the answer I was waiting for.
‘Now we are in the fifth round and we want to fight for this competition. It will be difficult because a lot of the best teams are in it but we want to give this opportunity to our young players in these type of games. You take risks but if you want to develop these young players you have to give the chance to play tough games, not soft games.’
Conte also labelled as good news from the night the first appearance by Danny Drinkwater who importantly gives him more options in midfield, although he warned the summer signing won’t be back to 100 per cent fitness until after the November international break. He also highlighted Michy Batshuayi’s continued improvement as opening the way to maybe playing two strikers on occasions. He also reported on N’Golo Kante.
‘Kante is progressing well and I am very happy because I saw him in a good physical condition but for sure in this moment we have to find the strength to keep calm and to find the right moment to put him in the team.’
Willy Caballero made some important saves in the second half when the lead over Everton was only 1-0…
‘Willy played very well,’ said Conte, ‘but if I have to find a negative thing tonight it is that like against Nottingham Forest we conceded a goal in the last minute, and maybe we paid for a bit of lack of attention, but I repeat I must be pleased because this tie was a very tough one for us.’