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Rojo

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke to preview Premier League clash against Stoke City.

The Blues manager was firstly asked about injury concerns, since Victor Moses left the pitch with some physical issues against Man United on Monday night:

“Victor Moses, today, trained well. I think he’s available but, for the game against Stoke City, it’s important to check a couple of situations and then make the best decisions tomorrow. I’d prefer to keep those to me. Excuse me, but there it is.”

Chelsea can go 13 points clear at top beating Stoke City at Britannia Stadium tomorrow, and Conte is confident about that. Anyway, the Italian manager underlined Premier League’s complexity:

“It’s important to start by beating Stoke City. It won’t be easy. They’re a really strong, physical team with great players and good technique. Stoke City, for sure, are a really good team. For this reason we must pay really great attention tomorrow with focus. The game won’t be easy, for sure. Now I think we need 24 points to win the league, and it’s important for us to see it game by game, to go game by game, without looking forward too far.”

Then Conte added: “If we can afford to three games? If I imagine this? Thought this? To arrive at this point to have lost only three games is good because, don’t forget, this league is very tough. Every game you can lose, you can lose. For this reason I’m very happy with this result. The league has to finish and there are 11 games to go and, tomorrow, we will have a test. A tough test. Very important. We must pay great attention.”

About Rojo’s stamp on Hazard, the Italian manager claimed: “It’s important to underline that I spoke about the situation, about Eden Hazard, when you asked me if the double yellow card was right. I replied in this way, that in the first 20-25 minutes I saw only this type of situation for him, and it was impossible for him to play football. But I understand in football there are this type of situations. I don’t like this, and I always want to face a team who want to play football and to beat us playing football. I think that’s important.”

Eden Hazard is impressing with the Blues so far, also Conte reckons the importance of the Belgian starlet: “Eden is showing great football but also great character and great personality in every game. I think he is growing a lot in this aspect. For him, it’s fantastic. Not only for him, but also for the team.”

“It’s too early to reply to this question. I hope that, at the end of the season, one of my players could be player of the year. It would mean we’ve won the league and, for me, it would be a great satisfaction to have one of my players winning this award. Until now it’s important to be concentrated on the league and try and play game by game, to be focused. They are important but, if you don’t win, they are not important.”

About decisions to sell players like Lukaku or De Bruyne in the past, Conte said: “But it’s always very difficult to take always the best decision. Sometimes it can happen that you think one thing and then, in the future, something else happens. A different situation. I think, above all, in football it’s not simple to give always a correct evaluation for players. Sometimes a player who, in the last two years or so, didn’t play well goes on to have a fantastic season. That happens. But it’s not right to talk about mistakes.”

 

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Manchester United will visit Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening with five key players missing from their line-up.

Defenders Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Phil Jones will all join Johnny Evans, who is missing the match as part of his suspension for spitting at Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse in a recent match, on the sidelines through injury. Manchester United, currently third in the Premier League table, were hoping that Michael Carrick would return but it appears the midfielder will also have to sit out the match after he picked up a late knock against Manchester City last weekend. On a better note for Louis van Gaal’s side, Luke Shaw is available to return after injury.

The number of injuries Manchester United will give heart to Jose Mourinho’s side, especially as it is the visitors’ back four which is debilitated; the number of absentees for the opposition should compensate for the lack of fire-power Chelsea have up front, with both Diego Costa and Loic Remy potentially missing out on this game through injury. Both players sat out last week’s intense 1-0 win away at QPR and it is likely that Didier Drogba will start up front for the Blues for the second week in a row.

Saturday’s game is crucial for both sides as the victors will effectively achieve their objective for the season with three points- the league title for Chelsea and Champions league qualification for Manchester United.

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