LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is relishing the attacking selection headache he faces following winger Pedro’s return from suspension ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea have won 13 matches in a row to surge five points clear at the top of the table and have the chance to strengthen their grip on the title after second-placed Liverpool drew at Sunderland on Monday.
“I like to have my players in good form and then to make the best choice for the game. It is a good problem. Now, we have Pedro, Willian, (Eden) Hazard and (Diego) Costa in good form and in good shape,” Conte told reporters on Tuesday.
“I have to decide the starting XI but I think you win the game in 90 minutes and it is important to have all my players available and in good form.”
Conte was not looking too far ahead as he brushed off suggestions that the league title was Chelsea’s to lose.
“The league is open. This is only the first game of the second part of the season,” Conte said.
“It is important to stay focused in every game, whether you play Tottenham or another game.”
Conte also suggested Chelsea might be active in the January transfer window.
“There are some positions that, if we are able to find the right solution, it is important to take that solution. This championship is long,” the Italian said.
“Also, I know the difficulty of the market and finding the right player. But we are talking about this.”
Striker Diego Costa, the league’s top scorer with 14 goals this season, was close to joining Atletico Madrid last season but Conte never questioned his commitment.
“When Diego decided to stay, he said he wanted to fight for this club and for his shirt. I wasn’t concerned. He is showing great patience in the right way, in every moment of the game,” the coach said.
Chelsea will arrive at White Hart Lane seeking to beat Arsenal’s record of 13 consecutive top-flight victories in a season.
“It is a great achievement for us. To win 13 games in a row is not easy,” Conte added.
“We know that we have a tough game against Tottenham. It is a good team. For this reason we need to continue our run.”
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by ed Osmond