Antonio Conte is set to give Emerson Palmieri his first start since joining Chelsea in the January transfer window as the Italian prepares to take on Hull City in the FA Cup this weekend ahead of facing Barcelona in the Champions League next week.
The Blues put three goals past West Bromwich Albion on Monday to end a run of two defeats to opponents outside of the top six. Bournemouth stunned the Premier League champions with a 3-0 win away at Stamford Bridge while Watford piled on the pain dish a 4-1 defeat at Vicarage Road as the title holders were reduced to 10 men.
Olivier Giroud played a key role as the lead striker in the victory over West Brom earlier this week and Conte has promised supporters that another January signing will be ready to make an impact at the weekend.
“For sure Emerson is ready to play from the start,” he told Chelsea TV. “But for sure we want to win.”
Chelsea’s first-choice left-back Marcos Alonso has been struggling for fitness in recent weeks and the attacking impetus he has provided down his flank has been missed.
However, with Barcelona on the horizon, Conte will have to be clever about how he reshuffles his pack against Hull.
With his defence of last season’s Premier League title all but over, and the Champions League a difficult route to silverware, the FA Cup may be the Italian’s best and only avenue to bring glory back to West London this campaign, a fact that has not passed him by.
“First of all, I want to tell you that we want to go through to the next round,” he added.
“We want to try to win this game and then to prepare also our confidence in the right way before the games against Barcelona and then two tough games in the league against [Manchester] United and [Manchester] City. But at the same time I think that my players deserve a chance.”
Conte dropped another hint over his team selection too: “players like [Ethan] Ampadu deserve to play.”
It remains to be seen who else will be called into action in the showdown with Hull.
Who should Conte rest for the game against Hull with Barcelona in midweek? Let us know in the comments below.