Antonio Conte claimed Diego Costa proved him right to bring the controversial striker straight back into Chelsea’s starting line-up by scoring in the victory over Hull City.
Costa returned after missing the win against Leicester City, following a bust-up with Conte over a back injury and a big offer from China, to make his 100th Chelsea appearance and netted his team’s opening goal.
Conte once again refused to offer any long-term assurances over Costa’s future, but insisted the 28-year-old has proved his commitment for the rest of the season as Chelsea extended their advantage at the top of the Premier League table to eight points.
“You must tell me if I did well to put Diego in the starting XI,” said head coach Conte.
“If I remember well, I told you that I have to make the best decision for the team. If Diego wasn’t ready to play today or my choice was bad, the fault was mine. Not the player’s. I think Diego played a really good game with a good attitude.
“I repeat, he’s very happy to stay with us and to play with Chelsea. For us, now, it’s very important for us to concentrate on the present and not try to see too far into the future. That will risk not seeing the present.
“It’s important Diego played a good game and I hope with this game to finish the speculation about him, about me and him, about Chelsea. I think we showed that we are a team with a great unity and I think this is the real value that helps us stay top of the table.”
Chelsea took full advantage of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Manchester United dropping points, and Conte added: “A lot of opponents dropped points this weekend. For sure, I’m pleased because it’s not easy to play the last game of the weekend and to know the results of the other teams.
“If the opponents win or lose, you always have pressure. Today we had the pressure to win and exploit this weekend, and it’s not easy, it’s not easy, above all when you play the last game.”
Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason was taken to St Mary’s Hospital following a clash of heads with Chelsea captain Gary Cahill.
“I imagine in this moment that he will stay in hospital,” said Hull manager Marco Silva. “I hope nothing special, nothing serious, but we’ll see.”THE TELEGRAPH