Conte ex­pects se­lec­tion gam­ble to pay off

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

An­to­nio Conte be­lieves his de­ci­sion to rest sev­eral of Chelsea stars for their Cham­pi­ons League de­mo­li­tion of Qarabag will be re­warded when the Blues face Arse­nal on Sun­day. Conte left out David Luiz, An­to­nio Rudi­ger, Vic­tor Moses and Al­varo Mo­rata for Tues­day’s 6-0 thump­ing of the Azer­bai­jan min­nows at Stam­ford Bridge.

With those key play­ers kept fresh and Eden Haz­ard com­ing off the bench for only his sec­ond ap­pear­ance since close-sea­son an­kle surgery, Conte is con­fi­dent Chelsea will go into their Lon­don derby in good con­di­tion to claim three valu­able points.

“It was a good start, a per­fect start us,” Conte said. “To play the first game of the Cham­pi­ons League, then to win with a good re­sult, to score many goals, to fin­ish the game with a clean sheet. “I saw a lot of pos­i­tive things. Now we have to rest and get ready for a tough game against a strong Arse­nal team.”

Conte’s se­lec­tion gam­ble was never in dan­ger of back­fir­ing as goals from Pe­dro, Da­vide Zap­pa­costa, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ce­sar Azpilicueta and Michy Bat­shuayi en­sured Chelsea made a strong start to their group stage cam­paign.

Giv­ing his un­der­stud­ies a chance for valu­able game time was an added bonus for Conte, who said: “I wanted to give a chance to Michy and also to An­dreas Chris­tensen. “To play in the Cham­pi­ons League means the coach trusts you. “My mes­sage tonight was this: I trust all my play­ers, not with only words, but with facts.

PLAYER DE­VEL­OP­MENT

“Last sea­son we played with only 13 play­ers, to do that again would be crazy. “We have to de­velop th­ese play­ers, to try and cre­ate a good com­pe­ti­tion, a pos­i­tive com­pe­ti­tion, be­tween them. It’s very im­por­tant.” Conte was also en­cour­aged by Zap­pa­costa’s first start fol­low­ing his dead­line day move from Torino.The Italy right-back capped a lung-burst­ing run with a cross that flew in for Chelsea’s sec­ond goal.

“He played a re­ally good game. For sure he knew very well my style of foot­ball and for this rea­son I de­cided to start with him,” Conte said. “It’s not easy to change your life in one week, but his an­swer was very good. “He scored and that’s im­por­tant us but I’m more pleased for his per­for­mance.” De­spite Haz­ard’s solid show­ing as a sec­ond half sub­sti­tute, Conte ad­mit­ted it might be too soon for the Bel­gian play­maker to start against Arse­nal. “It’s early to speak about this. We must have a bit of pa­tience with Eden,” Conte said. “We must give him the pos­si­bil­ity to re­cover very well, to be to­tally fit.

“We must have calm to do the best for the player and the team. Oth­er­wise we risk a bad in­jury.” It was a chas­ten­ing first taste of the Cham­pi­ons League group stage for Qarabag, but Gur­ban Gur­banov, boss of the Azer­bai­jan min­nows, in­sisted it was still a proud day for his club. — AFP

LON­DON: Chelsea’s Ger­man de­fender An­to­nio Rudi­ger (C) vies with Qarabag’s South African striker Dino Ndlovu (R) dur­ing the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Group C foot­ball match be­tween Chelsea and Qarabag at Stam­ford Bridge in Lon­don on Tues­day. Chelsea won the match 6-0. — AFP

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