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English Premiership

Conte happy with Hazard in false nine role

Antonio Conte.

LONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 10 – Antonio Conte says he will continue to utilise Eden Hazard as a ‘false nine’ for as long as he feels the system is working for Chelsea.

The Blues play struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday evening, hoping to return to winning ways in the Premier League after two losses, 2-1 to Manchester United and 1-0 to Manchester City.

Hazard has played in the false nine position on a number of occasions, but critics slammed the tactic last week following the loss against City, as Chelsea failed to record a shot on target.

However, the Eagles are a very different proposition, with Conte explaining: “If I think it’s right for the team to play this way, it’s OK.

“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.”

Chelsea signed Olivier Giroud from Arsenal in January but he has been used sparingly by Conte, who added: “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 (Alvaro) 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.

“I like to talk with the players face to face, or in meetings with all the players.”

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