Antonio Conte has insisted Cesc Fabregas remains central to his plans – despite leaving him on the bench against West Ham on Monday night.
Diego Costa’s last-gasp strike ensured Conte enjoyed a winning start to his Premier League career at Chelsea, with Eden Hazard also converting a penalty in the Blues’ 2-1 victory.
But Fabregas did not take to the pitch at all, although Conte later insisted he had no issue with the Spaniard’s attitude.
‘Cesc is Chelsea’s player, and I’m happy about him, with his attitude and behaviour,’ said Conte.
‘He must know from before that when we are a great team like Chelsea it can happen that I have to take a decision before the game to choose a starting XI.
‘That can happen that Fabregas is not in the starting XI, but it can happen for all the players. It’s important to see always the right attitude. Because we must fight this season and it’s important to stay together in every situation.
But then the shape can improve and can change all the situations. Now I took this decision but the next game I can change or not.
‘When a coach takes this decision there is always a reason but I prefer to keep this to myself.
‘But I repeat I don’t see any problem and I’m very happy to have these players, to train these players.’
Some feel Costa should have been dismissed for his late challenge on Adrian, where he upended the visitors’ goalkeeper.
But Conte leapt to Costa’s defence when it was suggested the forward should not have been on the pitch to net the winning goal.
‘I must be honest Diego tried to put pressure on Adrian, and then before the contact he stopped,’ said Conte.
‘And then for this reason I think that the referee took the right decision.
‘We know Diego is a passionate man, and he puts passion into everything he does. And he showed he will run for everything. But in this situation I must be honest I think that the referee took the right decision.’