Conte: Blues sent good message to rivals

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was pleased to see his side emerge 3-0 victors over Bournemouth on Boxing Day in the absence of key duo Diego Costa and N'Golo Kante.

Both Costa and Kante were serving bans for the Blues, with many thinking that the Premier League leaders might slip up against the Cherries without the influential pair.

But they made light work of Eddie Howe's men at Stamford Bridge, where a brace from Pedro and Eden Hazard's penalty sealed a club-record 12th straight league win for the west Londoners.

Conte felt the performance sent a statement of intent to their title rivals after going seven points clear at the top of the table.

"I think today we sent a good message in general, because a lot of people were waiting [to see if] we could lose points in this game without two really important players, Costa and Kante," the Italian said after the match.

"It didn't happen. I am pleased for this, because I can count on all my players in the squad. I try in every game to make the best decision for the team without looking at the faces."

Meanwhile, Conte insisted that Michy Batshuayi is staying put for the second-half of the season, despite leaving the striker on the bench in Monday's clash.

The off-season signing from Marseille was expected to start up front for the suspended Costa, but was only introduced as a substitute deep into stoppage time, with Hazard preferred in attack.

However, the former Italy manager is counting on Batshuayi to play his part in the new year and will not allow the Belgium international to leave on loan during the January transfer window.

"I think that Michy is a really good player, but a young player, he is trying to adapt to this league," Conte added. "I try to make the best decision for the team but I am sure Michy will get the possibility to show his talent in the future.

"Today, also I wanted to give him the opportunity to play and to have another appearance. It happened at the end but I think that we have to continue to work with him every day to try to improve him, to bring him in the best condition to help us in this league."

Asked about the possibility of sending the player out on loan, he replied: "No, also because I have these players. He is a new player for Chelsea, to go on loan now, is a defeat for the club and for me. Now it is important to be focused to improve.

"I want to win and every decision I make is because I want to win. I have to take the best decision, sometimes it is good, positive or negative but I try to put every player in the best condition."