Antonio Conte heaped praise on Eden Hazard after the playmaker helped to inspire Chelsea to their 3-0 win over Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.
The Belgium international scored from the spot for the Blues as Conte’s men notched up their 12th win on the bounce in the Premier League to continue their fine form.
The victory left Chelsea flying high at the top of the Premier League table after having established themselves as the firm favourites to win the title this season.
Hazard was named as the man of the match following an impressive display by the Belgian against Eddie Howe’s men.
And Conte was delighted by the impact Hazard had at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day after he was deployed up front in the absence of the suspended Diego Costa.
Speaking at his post-match news conference, Conte said of Hazard: “I knew Eden only as an opponent [before coming to Chelsea], above all for his national team.
“I watched him a lot of times on TV and I’m not surprised. He has great talent. The most important thing is he is putting his talent in the team.
“It’s fantastic for me to see the great job he is doing with the ball, and above all without the ball. I hope to continue to improve him in his way.
“Eden, Pedro and Willian all played really well. After the Crystal Palace game, I said we had a week to work to find the right solution and play for the first time without Diego and Kante this season.
“After a week of work, I decided to choose this solution, with Eden as a forward. I’m pleased for the performance of these players.”
Letting Michy Batshuayi go on loan would be a defeat for Chelsea and Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte insists Michy Batshuayi, the £33million signing from Marseille, will not be leaving Chelsea on loan next month.
The Belgian came on only after Pedro’s late third, facing only the restart before the full-time whistle, when he was consoled by Conte.
Batshuayi is yet to start in the Premier League, but Conte says it would be a “defeat” for him as head coach if the striker is permitted to make a temporary move.
Conte repeatedly said “no” when asked if Batshuayi would be allowed to go out on loan.
“This player is a new player for Chelsea and to go on loan now is a defeat for the club and above all for me,” Conte said.
“We have to continue to work with him every day to try together to improve him.
“I want to win and every decision I make is because I want to win and I have to take the best decision.
“Michy Batshuayi is a really good player, but he’s a young player and he’s trying to adapt to this league, this football.
“I try to make the best decision for the team, but I’m sure Michy could be the possibility to show his talent in the future.”
Conte declares Chelsea have sent a ‘good message’ to title rivals
Antonio Conte declared that Chelsea had “sent a good message” by winning without Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante.
Both players were suspended for the 3-0 win against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, where Pedro scored twice and Eden Hazard netted from the penalty spot.
It was Chelsea’s 12th Premier League win in a row and cemented their position at the top of the table.
And Blues boss Conte said: “I think today we sent a good message in general because we think a lot of people wanted to see us without two really important players in Costa and Kante to see if we lost points.
“But it didn’t happen and I am pleased about this. I can count on all my players in the squad.”