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Conte discusses Chelsea’s squad rotation, David Luiz

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Antonio Conte has been an avid rotator of his Chelsea team this season and the Italian coach has confirmed he will do it once again on Wednesday for their League Cup quarterfinal.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup QF scores ] 

Chelsea host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and Conte has revealed his plans to give plenty of youngsters a chance against the Cherries.

With European action, a run in the League Cup and Chelsea sitting in third place in the Premier League table, Conte’s rotation has worked fairly well and he believes it is the best way for success across all four competitions his team will play in.

“It’s right to continue to give this opportunity to my players to show me that they deserve to play,” Conte said. “Every competition is serious and our task is to try and win the game, to reach the semifinals. It’s right in this competition to give the opportunity to the players that aren’t playing with regularity. This is very important. It’s very difficult to ask your players to play every game. [N’Golo] Kante has played 10 games in a row. When you do this, you take a great risk with injury.”

Conte confirmed that both Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy will start against Bournemouth, while academy products Dujon Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi could be in the squad and 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu may start for the second-straight League Cup game.

When it comes to injuries, Conte revealed that Alvaro Morata is “okay” after his back injury and Charly Musonda is recovering well, while David Luiz remains out with a knee injury.

Responding to questions about media reports that Luiz could be sold to London rivals Arsenal in the January transfer window for over $40 million, Conte had the following to say.

“I don’t read and I solve the problem,” Conte said. “I don’t have some information about this topic. I repeat, I am a person who is very realistic. I like to tell the truth. I think that also I don’t want to annoy you with the same reply. I don’t listen to this. I don’t have anything about this.”

Conte then added that “I like to make the best decision from what I see during the training sessions and if you deserve to play, you play” as well as making a statement about him looking at the mental approach of his players when making decisions on whether or not they should start.

Luiz, 30, was left out of Chelsea’s squad for their win against Manchester United in November and hasn’t played for over a month amid reports of a bust-up with Conte. His knee injury also seems to have been rather convenient as rumors continue to swirl about him leaving Chelsea in January.

Andreas Christensen has impressed in place of Luiz and his form could suggest that Conte is willing to cash in on his Brazilian international who is known to be a big personality in the dressing room at Chelsea following his two spells at the club which yielded the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League trophies.

Luiz’s sudden fall from grace at Chelsea is even more shocking when you consider his fine form last season in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign. Many eyebrows were raised when Luiz returned to Chelsea from PSG but the Brazilian stepped up to become the central figure in Chelsea’s three-man defense.

Less than 12 months on, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him leave Chelsea in January.

Barcelona issue statement on Antoine Griezmann

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Hmm, this is an interesting tactic from Barcelona.

On Saturday the Catalan club released a statement about Atletico Madrid and France striker Antoine Griezmann.

The forward has long been linked with a move to Barca and media reports in Spain have gone into overdrive regarding a move to the Nou Camp for the 26-year-old.

Below is the statement from Barca in full.

FC Barcelona strongly denies the information that has appeared over the course of the last few hours in different media regarding Atletico Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann, and an alleged deal with our club.

FC Barcelona expresses its objections in the face of these events and reiterates its full respect for the institution of Atletico Madrid.

This feels very similar to the situation with Virgil Van Dijk between Liverpool and Southampton.

Media speculation reached incredible levels back in June 2017 that VVD had agreed to sign for Liverpool, but the Anfield club then issued a public apology to Saints and ended their pursuit of Van Dijk. He then signed for Liverpool in January in a $100 million move.

With Atletico said to be incredibly unhappy that Griezmann continues to be linked with a move to Barca, plus reports suggesting the Madrid club want to report Barcelona to FIFA for an alleged approach for their star striker, it’s not too surprising to see Barca take this very unusual approach to try and calm the situation down.

Will it work? Who knows. Is it likely Griezmann will end up at Barcelona anyway? This statement suggests that the two clubs are in dialogue and Barcelona are trying to patch up their relationship to try and move for Griezmann in the summer.

Call me cynical, but that’s the way I see this.

VIDEO: Chelsea score stunning team goal

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Take a bow, Chelsea.

Willian put the Blues 2-0 up at Brighton early on Saturday and the goal was a thing of beauty.

Latching onto an error from Brighton, Chelsea surged forward through Willian who played the ball into Eden Hazard.

The Belgian played a delicious back heel to Michy Batshuayi and the forward then followed suit to flick the ball into Willian’s path who fired home.

Take a look at the stunning goal in the video above.

Watch Live: Brighton v. Chelsea

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Brighton & Hove Albion host Chelsea at the Amex Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

With just one win in their last 12 games, Brighton are being dragged into a relegation battle, while Chelsea aren’t in glittering form with five draws on the spin in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

In team news, Brighton start with Tomer Hemed up top and have top scorer Glenn Murray on the bench. New club-record signing Jurgen Locadia isn’t illegible to make his Brighton debut after his signing was only confirmed late Friday, plus the former PSV Eindhoven forward is struggling with an injury..

Chelsea are without star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who has suffered an ankle injury in training, with Willy Caballero coming in to replace him. Alvaro Morata and Pedro are suspended, while Ross Barkley is on the bench and he could make his Chelsea debut.


LINEUPS

Brighton: Ryan; Goldson, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner, Schelotto; Stephens, Propper; March, Gross, Hemed. Subs: Hunemeier, Kayal, Baldock, Murray, Izquierdo, Rosenior, Krul

Chelsea: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Hazard. SubsEduardo, David Luiz, Zappacosta, Sterling, Ampadu, Barkley, Musonda

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

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  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.