The Blues boss was faced with a dilemma ahead of his FA Cup tie at the Molineux Stadium and he left his summer signing on the bench on Saturday
Antonio Conte has revealed the reason he opted to start with Diego Costa for Chelsea’s FA Cup meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, rather than Michy Batshuayi.
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The Blues boss overlooked the Belgian, despite the £33 million summer signing previously starting in each of his side’s cup games, in favour of Costa, in order to help the Spain international break his drought in front of goal.
Batshuayi has only started five games since his big-money move from Marseille, though Costa’s 16 goals in 24 starts backs up Conte’s preference for the former Atletico Madrid man as his focal point.
Pedro opened the scoring in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory but Costa added a second in the 89th minute, ending his 413 minute goal drought.
Following the game, Conte admitted that he started Costa against lower league opposition to help him rediscover his form in front of goal as the Blues compete for a league and cup double.
“I think that today it was important to continue to play with Costa, Willian and Hazard,” Conte said at the Molineux Stadium. “I repeat, do not forget our target is to win, not to try to make all the players happy.
“It’s important to make all the right choices because for Diego it was very important to play, to score. The same for Hazard and Willian. It was very important for me to find a new solution with the two wingers as wing-backs.
“I repeat, it’s important to find the best solution, then, why not the next game, Ruben or Michy can start. I made nine changes in the first and second games, today I made seven changes. I tried to make the best decision to win the game. When we have the quarter final, I’ll decide the line-up.”
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Conte has regularly made changes to his Chelsea starting line-up to help alleviate the pressures of fixture congestion, helped by the fact they are not involved in European competition this season.
John Terry has found himself on the fringe of the Blues squad this season as Conte’s settled starting XI have produced stunning consistency, but the Italian admits that he would like to see his captain lift the FA Cup at the end of the season following his fine performance against the Midlands club.
“I’d settle for that now, yes [John Terry lifting the FA Cup],” Conte said. “But it wont be easy – now there are eight strong teams with great surprise. But we have to think ourselves to go step by step.
“Tomorrow we will have a day off and on Monday we start to think about the league – we play against Swansea and for sure it will be a tough game, but its important to win. It is very important to be focused on the present.
“Now we stay in a good position, top of the table, in the quarter-final of the FA Cup. The most important thing now is the present, to work and build a good future, then for sure we’ll see the situation of every single player. We try to make the best decision for every single player.”