Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke ahead of Middlesbrough game on Sunday, the first one after mid-November international break.
First of all, he gave an injury update:
“I have all the players available, they are in good form, Diego Costa had a small injury after the game against Everton, he started to train with us on Wednesday, his physical condition is good, we got also tomorrow to see perfectly the situation, but at the moment he can play. Eden Hazard is fit, he got only a knock.
“It’s a great pleasure and honour to receive the PL manager of the month award after just three months, it’s important to share this award with my players, with the staff and with the club, this is an award for all the team.
“I’m pleased for Eden because he’s playing fantastic football, he’s got a great attitude and commitment also in training, he’s working a lot for the team, this is fantastic, it’s very good when he put his talent for the team.
“Eden like Ronaldo and Messi? I think we can go like the team, step by step, I think it’s not right to compare him to other players in this moment, I guess he got everything to do a great career.
“I said after the game against Everton that it was a pity to stop our run for the international break, but it’s important to continue in the way we did before the international break, I hope we found the right concentration and focus to restart after the break.
About Chelsea involved in the title race Conte said:
“First of all I see a great opportunity this year to bring something important to Chelsea, to bring a new method, a new philosophy, you want to fight until the end in the title race or for a place in the Champions League, I still got the same opinion: it’s important to keep working and build something for Chelsea, for the future.
Assistant coach Steve Holland might take a permanent job as Gareth Southgate’s assistant at England national team, this is what the Italian manager said about this:
“Steve Holland is a great professional, I’m pleased to have him as my assistant coach in Chelsea, for his work and also for the man, he’s focused on Chelsea now, he’s working really hard, I don’t know what is his decision for his future, but I don’t want to go in his decision, he worked with Southgate in U21 and he showed he’s great.
Speaking about Chelsea good moment Conte said:
“I’m very glad for our good run, I think we played a good football, we were really compact and we found a good balance, this is very important. This tactical system and starting XI is very good for the players, because I see them being very happy to play like this.
John Terry got injured while Conte was changing his tactical system and lost his place in the starting XI, but the ex Italy coach claimed the captain can regain his place in the starting formation:
“Terry can find a place in this formation, easily, he’s in a good shape. I am happy to have this adaptation from centre-backs, I am happy that Kurt [Zouma] now is with us, but in this moment he will need more time to find the good form, so we prefer him to keep playing with U23.
Asked about the differences about Premier League and Serie A Conte said:
“There is a big difference respect to Italy, and you have to be quick to understand this difference, every game everything can happen, the intensity is high and you have to play with high intensity if you want to win, this league is very tough, we must always have a great concentration from the start until the end, I try every day to push my players on this, even if they already know it.
Conte was also asked about players professional behaviour in their private lives after England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney was seen drunk in the national team hotel after last week win against Scotland:
“I give freedom to players when they have spare time, I want them to take their responsibilities, it’s normal to celebrate after you win a game, but you need also to think about the next game.
“Oscar‘s future is Chelsea, for me he’s an important player, he’s a in a good form, it’s logical I have to choose a starting XI every week, he’s a great player and for me he will stay in Chelsea, it’s important this message arrive, he will stay with us because I consider him an important player for Chelsea.
“We have a competitive squad, it’s normal during the season to have some injuries, I think we get a good squad to cope with injuries.
“Cesc Fabregas recovered from his injury and he’s in a great shape. I want to anticipate the question: Fabregas’ future is the same of Oscar, he will stay at Chelsea.”