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Monday 18 December 2017

Fabregas backs Conte's tinkering with Chelsea side

Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas
Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas believes Antonio Conte's tinkering will only benefit Chelsea.

Chelsea head coach Conte rotated his side for Wednesday's 1-0 Premier League win over Swansea.

Cesar Azpilicueta was rested in the Premier League for the first time under Conte, ending a run of 74 successive league starts since December 2015, while Eden Hazard was relegated to the substitutes' bench.

With nine games remaining in all competitions this calendar year, Conte is expected to keep altering his line-up, something Spain playmaker Fabregas welcomed.

"We have to cope with the situation. No-one can play every three days even if we want to," Fabregas said.

"If you keep playing, you will keep carrying knocks so it is good to have a break sometimes and come back fresher.

"To know that the team is performing and winning without Eden really being involved is very good.

"We started the season without him and he didn't start against Swansea because he is the best player (and needed a rest). Beating Swansea has kept the momentum going. In this period of the year it is just important to keep getting the three points." 

Dissent

Conte was sent from the touchline towards the end of the first half for dissent and afterwards apologised to referee Neil Swarbrick and fourth official Lee Mason.

Conte has since been charged with misconduct by the English Football Association following his dismissal. He later apologised to Swarbrick and Mason but has been charged. He has until 6.0pm on Tuesday to respond but, given his apology, Conte is unlikely to contest the charge and will accept the punishment, which is anticipated to be a fine.

The Blues, meanwhile, can afford further rotation against Atletico Madrid next Tuesday as they have already qualified from Group C. Fabregas added: "I think it is important for everyone in the team, especially the manager, to know that he can make a few alterations to the line-up and the team can still perform and get the win.

"It is crucial for him and the team to see that we can trust anyone. In this case it's a double victory because everyone is hungry to win, to play and to make it difficult for the manager."

Germany defender Antonio Rudiger scored the decisive goal, heading in after N'Golo Kante's shot was deflected into his path.

Afterwards Michy Batshuayi, who is currently out with an ankle injury, posted an image on Instagram showing a hole in Rudiger's left boot and blood seeping through the defender's sock. Conte will hope the wound will not prohibit Rudiger from featuring tomorrow, particularly as the full extent of David Luiz's knee injury is still to be determined.

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