Conte clears up Costa confusion, praises team and Moses in particular
Chelsea’s best performance of the year came despite many absences of players who had been key to Chelsea’s successes in recent seasons. Branislav Ivanović, Cesc Fàbregas, and Willian were all missing, the first two through injury while the latter had flown back to Brazil on bereavement leave.
Both Diego Costa and Eden Hazard dedicated their goals to Chelsea’s no.22, with Costa flashing a flying W and Hazard signalling 22 with his hands.
La W en la celebración de Hazard y Costa en honor a Willian que vive un terrible momento tras la muerte de su madre. # CFCLAT # CFC
1:24 PM – 15 Oct 2016
After the match, head coach Antonio Conte also dedicated the whole game to Willian.
“I want to dedicate the win to Willian and his family because we know it’s a very sad moment for him, and for us, because we are all very close.”
There was an incident halfway through the second half between Conte and Costa that could draw the assertion of closeness into question. While it was not clear what Conte may or may not have been saying, Costa was visibly agitated and was signaling for a substitution. Presumably, this was to make sure that he could avoid a yellow card that would’ve ruled him out from next weekend’s match against Manchester United.
But Conte was having none of that and told Diego to stay on. The journalists in the post-match press conference tried to get Conte to say something controversial, but he just explained his own reasoning for the decision, for which he takes responsibility regardless of outcome. As it turned out, Costa managed to make it through the game without a booking, so all’s well that ends well, right?
“If I can I want to keep Costa on until the end, he’s an important player with great personality. I know it was a risk because if he got another yellow card he would miss the next game but his passion is important for the team and he must transfer this in every minute of the game. I always take the responsibility in every situation, positive or negative, substitutions are always my decision.”
All of Conte’s decisions were coming up roses on Saturday. From Costa avoiding a booking, to young Nathaniel Chalobah locking down the midfield as Leicester grew into the game (“he showed he is really able”, said Conte afterwards) and providing a tremendous assisst to Victor Moses, who was putting in yet another good shift at right wingback.
“When I arrived at Chelsea I told the club I wanted to see Victor in pre-season because I knew him very well and I knew about his great potential. He played well as a winger when we were playing with a 4-2-4. He’s a very good player, now he’s playing as a wing-back and it’s fantastic because he pays great attention in defence and can go one against one in attack. Alonso always played this role but Moses is a winger. His education is fantastic. I’m pleased for him. If someone shows they deserve to play I have no problem, I don’t care about the surname.”
The surnames of the three subs were Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, and Aina (on his Premier League debut). Three Chelsea Academy products. Three Chelsea points. Three Chelsea goals. Three at the back, another clean sheet. Today was a good day.
“In the first half we played a very good game with high intensity, good passing and finding the attackers between the lines. We created many chances to score and we were aggressive when we lost the ball.”
“Today I’m pleased because I saw the things we have been working on this week. Above all I’m pleased for the players because when you work so hard during the week it’s logical you want to see a good result and a good game.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Next up are Manchester United (and Jose Mourinho), who, at best will be level on points with Chelsea coming into the match. We have a week to prepare and continue to dial in the 3-4-3. The signs today were highly promising.