[ MORE: American debuts for Chelsea ]
Given the relative struggles of the rest of the team in recent weeks — aside from a 3-0 win against lowly West Brom — that has Conte assessing who’s best suited for a brutal 12-day stretch which sees Chelsea play Barcelona, Manchester United, and Manchester City.
Alvaro Morata is in a prolonged slump, and Giroud has put in a couple of fine performances. Willian has been one of Chelsea’s best players for some time, but with Pedro and Eden Hazard also on song, well, there are a lot of cooks for this particular stew.
‘I’m very happy because before the game against Barcelona I go to my house with many doubts in my mind about what is the best starting XI for the game. Now we must take the right time to make the best decision.
‘The last two wins were very important for our confidence and to prepare in the right way for Barcelona. It’s a massive game. We must be confident to prepare for it in the right way. The game starts at 0-0, and then we have to try to move it in the right direction.
The four-goal Friday first half allowed Conte to pull off Pedro at half and Cesc Fabregas after 62 minutes — handing a senior debut to U.S. prospect Kyle Scott — and that will allay plenty of exhaustion fears.
Willian and Hazard should be given against Barcelona, and Pedro also seems fit for the three men behind the big striker (especially considering his limited Friday duty). In terms of form, Giroud’s the guy. But Morata was brought here for nights like this.