Chelsea V Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview

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31 March 2017
Chelsea V Crystal Palace - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Chelsea boss Antonio Conte plays down 'normal' rumours about 'happy' Eden Hazard

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte believes it is normal for suitors to try to unsettle players, as Real Madrid bid to prise Eden Hazard from the Premier League leaders.

Hazard was this week linked with a B#100million move to Real, whose head coach Zinedine Zidane is the Belgium playmaker's idol.

Conte says it is flattering for his Chelsea players to have admirers, but insists Hazard is happy at Stamford Bridge.

"The only thing I can say is Eden is a Chelsea player, our player," the Italian said.

"We are happy with him. He is happy with us. I don't see a problem.

"It's normal, it's logical in this part of the season, to start rumours about our player...to try to create difficulty in the mind of the players.

"We have great experience to face this situation. Also my players have this experience.

"If Chelsea players are requested by the other teams, it means they're doing very well.

"I'm very happy. It means I'm doing a great job."

Hazard is under contract until June 2020.

Chelsea captain John Terry, who has not made a Premier League start since September, is out of contract this summer.

Rumours have begun of defender Terry being offered another one-year contract extension.

Conte, who again repeated that contracts and transfers would be addressed at the end of the season and his players should focus on the present, said: "For every situation, there will be the right moment to face. The club is working very well to solve many situations.

"I like to talk about John for this season. He's helping a lot. I repeat: he's doing a great job.

"John knows my thoughts about him and I think the most important thing is this."

Chelsea are 10 points clear entering this weekend's fixtures and with 10 games remaining.

The Blues play Sam Allardyce's Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and need 21 more points to seal the title.

Conte added: "I think we deserve to win, but there are 10 games to go. For sure our opponents don't want to accept that Chelsea is champions.

"Football is full of surprises. In my experience as a footballer, I won a lot, but I think I lost more.

"For this reason, I want to keep our feet on the ground. It's very important, this."

Hazard is expected to recover from a calf injury but Chelsea could opt to leave him out ahead of Manchester City visiting on Wednesday.

Conte says he has a number of fitness issues to assess ahead of kick-off and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (hip) returned to training on Thursday.

Striker Diego Costa shrugged off a foot and ankle problem when on international duty with Spain, while Victor Moses (calf) is a doubt.

Meanwhile, Allardyce insists he wants Yohan Cabaye to remain at Crystal Palace beyond the end of the season but understands the midfielder may leave.

The France international recently responded to reports of a potential summer transfer to Marseille by telling beIN Sports he was unsure "what the future holds", adding he was "open to all" options.

Cabaye, 31, has not yet become the success he was expected to be when he joined Palace for a then club-record B#10million in 2015.

He maintains he is focused on their present battle against relegation, but Marseille have the funds to tempt Palace, and Allardyce said: "He would like to keep the club up.

"Reading between the lines, he would like to go to Marseille if they made a big enough bid for him.

"In today's world and today's society, if he does the job for us and keeps us up and Marseille offer us millions of pounds, then Steve (Parish, Palace's chairman) will say 'Should we or shouldn't we?'.

"But I would prefer to keep him.

"What happens in the summer? Who knows? There will be some comings, there will be some goings and that happens at every football club now. Too much these days."

Palace are without the injured Patrick van Aanholt and, following Mathieu Flamini's return to training, Fraizer Campbell and James McArthur have become doubts.


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