Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke ahead of the derby against Crystal Palace.
Despite being top of the league six points clear of the second one ( Arsenal) and coming from a ten wins in a row run, the Blues boss claimed his players have to pay attention now because everybody will try to beat the best team in the league, with nothing to lose.
But first, he gave an injury update:
“I think Eden Hazard is fit, but I still have to decide if I put him in the starting XI, I have this night to decide, it’s not easy to play two games in three days, we had very short recvoery time, so it’s important to take the best decision about my formation tomorrow.
“It can happen a player can have an injury and his substitte plays very well, it s important to have the chance to choose. We have no other injuries.
It was rumoured that Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG offered Chelsea more than £ 50m for Oscar, that is also attracted by a huge money offer for him.
Conte didn’t dimiss the speculation and commented the situation like this:
“I dont know the amount and the situation, but I think you will know the situation in the right moment.
“It’s not easy to take the best decision, you have also to understand if you choice penalise you.
“If we will replace him in January? I always speak with the club, with the board, they know my thought about the situation. We will try to take the best decision, but I am very sorry if I will go, for the player, for the man.”
The Italian manager was also asked about PSG star Marco Verratti, who some rumours claimed was in negotiations with Chelsea:
“I don’t like to speak of players that are not in my team, it’s a lack of respect for everyone.
Chelsea were top of the league four times in Christmas period and then four times won the league, with his fingers crossed Conte replied:
“I don’t like the stats and the story, I have to look the present.
“We started without a great ambition, I think it will be very difficult for us this season, we are a great surprise for many people, now it’s important to continue this way.”
Continuing to speak about tomorrow’s clash, the Blues bossa said:
“My players and I have great motivation to get three points, if we continue to win it’s fantastic, tomorrow it’s another derby, it will be very tough, they are not in a great moment, they are not in a good position in the table but they will have ambition.”
Palace manager Alan Pardew said Chelsea seem unbeatable:
“We want to continue to work and improve, in our project, in our system, for us now it’s difficult because the other teams have nothing to lose, everybody will try to break our 10 wins in a row run.
“I think us being top pf the table now is a great surprise, I arrived after a 10th place in the last season, manager change, new idea, new football….It’s not easy. I think we had a difficult moment when we conceded two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal but then we fixed the things and took off.
“Every game is always open in this league, you must go with great concentration, to be very focused, I think that 6-7 teams can fight for the title until the end.
“I have always great respect for the opinion of other coaches, like Pardew, I think you can achieve some results only with hard work.
“When you arrive from 10 wins of course there is a great respect for you, but I repeat eat that this situation is very good for our rivals, because they have nothing to lose.
“This position is more difficult for us, it’s not easy to continue this way, while our opponents have nothing to lose.
“I don’t like to speak about the past and also about other managers, it’s important to be focused on the present, to achieve the results, we know we have to fight a lot until the end to stay in the title race. The situation can seem easy, but it’s not easy.
Conte was also asked about John Terry‘s situation:
“He’s ready to recover but he’s always with us, he travels with us, he is a really important player, for Chelsea, for me, for his team-mates. I don’t know when he will recover, but he is trying to do that.”
Again, Conte was consulted about Chinese Super League, that is trying to attract big players and managers with insane money offers and was asked if he scared about them:
“The Chinese market is a danger for every team in the world, not only for Chelsea, but I think we must be concentrated on our work. In China there is a lot of money , but I guess this league is fantastic, it must be a honour to work here.
“I can’t predict the future of a single player, I think every single player is the owner of his future.”