Conte keen to carry Christmas cheer into Bournemouth battle

Conte keen to carry Christmas cheer into Bournemouth battle

The Italian wants to maintain their good form without two key players.

Jonathan Walsh

Antonio Conte is preparing his Chelsea side for what he called a "very good team" and a "very really good manager" when Bournemouth and Eddie Howe visit on Boxing Day.

The Blues are currently on an incredible 11-game winning streak in the Premier League, the longest in their history, and are keen to keep that going.

However, the confident Cherries are equally desperate to improve their away form and are boost by the suspensions of both N'Golo Kante and Diego Costa.

Will Batshuayi start?

With Costa unavailable, it should pave the way for a first start of the season for Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian striker, who arrived in the summer, has been limited to cameos off the bench thus far.

However, despite being the obvious replacement, Conte is keeping his cards close to his chest: "Diego is an important player for us but in this squad I can have different solutions for his replacement and we are working on this aspect." 

Conte isn't worried about the upcoming challenge either, seeing it is as chance to prove themselves: "It is a good test for us to play this game without two players very important for this team, and for this reason it is important to evaluate the group situation."

He added, "It is the chance to play a player who is not playing a lot or to find another solution. "

Conte gives his thoughts on the winter fixtures

Conte admitted he knew what he was in for before joining the London club, having never before managed in a league that didn't stop for rest during the holiday period: "I heard of this situation in England, and I heard a lot of coaches being disappointed to not stop to have a winter break, above all in the national team."

While he pointed to fellow countryman, Fabio Capello and his gripes with woes in terms of England's senior side, he did add: "The atmosphere to play in this period is very difficult to find in another period, and it’s fantastic."

Regardless, the Italian manager emphasised the need to be with family regardless of the situation: "You have to celebrate Christmas with the family, that’s the most important. It’s not important where you stay but it’s important to stay together."

Quotes via Chelsea FC.