Antonio Conte has no regrets over his use of Eden Hazard, despite the forward’s interview in which he seemed to criticise his role as a false 9.
Hazard said “we didn’t play to our strengths” after he failed to get a shot away as Chelsea were dominated in a 1-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Chelsea have now lost four of their past five Premier League games and, although Conte is likely to use Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud against Crystal Palace, he defended his decision to put Hazard up front.
“If I think it’s right for the team to play this way, it’s OK,” Conte said at Cobham Training Centre. “Otherwise I can take another decision and play with a striker. Maybe I can take different decisions. There are three players for two places. One has to go on the bench. Then I have to decide who has to go on the bench.
“For sure, [Giroud] is ready. He has specific characteristics, Olivier. He’s a strong player and has a lot of physicality. I think that, in some games, it’s right to start with him. In other games, it’s right to start with Morata.
“In others, it’s right to continue with Hazard as a No.9. Olivier, he played against West Brom from the start, and played against Hull, and then came on in every game, I think. But he’s ready to play. But I repeat, I don’t like to speak to the press what happens with one player, with two players, with the team.