Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was asked about a number of issues at his press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace. Here is some of what the Italian had to say.
On Eden Hazard
“He’s fit – today he trained with us. Then, not only for him but also for the other players, I have to decide [on the starting XI] because it’s not easy to play three games in six days.
“We played against Sunderland on a Wednesday, we came back at 4am, [and had] only one day to prepare the game and to play again at 12.30.
“For this reason, it’s important to see every single detail, and then to take the best decision for tomorrow.”
On Oscar’s mooted move to China
“I don’t know exactly the amount or the situation but I think in the right moment you will know the situation. But now we have to wait.
“I always talk with the club, with the board. I explain my thoughts about every situation. Then it’s normal the club tries to make the best decision.
“But there are situations that are amazing and it’s very difficult to react to, to try to solve the situation in the best way.”
On being linked with PSG’s Marco Verratti
“I don’t like to talk about different players, because I think this is a great lack of respect for the player, for the club and for my players.
“It’s important to talk in the right place about the market.”
On Chelsea being top at Christmas
“I don’t like the stats, above all this season. I think this season is very, very difficult for us.
“Until now we are working very well and I think that we are a great surprise for many people. Now it’s important to continue to be this great surprise.”
On potential to match a club-record 11 consecutive league wins
“Me and my players have a great motivation to take three points. I think this is the most important thing for us.
“Then, if we continue to win, it’s fantastic. We’ll try, for sure, to win the game but also we all know that tomorrow is another derby.
“It will be very tough against a good team that now is not in a good position in the table but the squad is very good.”
On Alan Pardew’s claim that Chelsea seem unbeatable
“I think that in the world there isn’t a team that is unbeatable.
“For us now it’s very difficult, because when you play against a team that has nothing to lose and they put intensity, and great aggression [into their game] to try to beat the team that is arriving with 10 wins in a row.”
On his team’s present position
“When you arrive after a 10th place in the last season, change manager, try to bring a new method, a new idea of football, it’s not easy. You need time to work, to improve.
“I think there was a difficult moment when we conceded two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal and then we started to work and to find the right way for us.
“But there are three games to finish the first part of the season, and then there are 19 games before we finish the season.
“In this league, every game is always open and in every game anything can happen.
“You must go with great concentration, to be focused, because you can play against each team and you can lose.
“I think that until the end, six or seven teams can fight for the title.”
On whether Didier Drogba may return as a coach
“I don’t know. I don’t like to reply if the question starts with ‘if’.”
On whether Chelsea’s form makes them intimidating to opponents
“Sure, when you arrive with 10 wins, there is a great respect for you.
“But this situation is a good situation for the opponent because they have nothing to lose. It is more difficult for us to continue this way than for our opponent [to beat us].”
“We all know that until the end we have to fight a lot to stay with the other teams. Now, the situation seems easy, but it is not easy. My experience tells me that.”
On John Terry
“I don’t know the right time for him to recover from his injury.
“John, after his first injury, recovered very well. If you remember he played the last few minutes against Everton and then he had another injury. Now he’s trying to recover from that.
“John is always very close to the team. He comes with us when we go to play away. He’s a really important player for Chelsea, for me, for his team-mates.”
On the threat posed by the Chinese Super League’s money
“The Chinese market is a danger for all teams in the world, not only for Chelsea.
“But I think that this league is fantastic, and to play in this league is a great opportunity, an honour.
“You must be very proud to play in this league because I think, now, it’s the best league in the world to play – for this reason, I don’t worry about this.”