Antonio Conte hailed the teamwork of Chelsea’s second string after making nine changes for Sunday’s 4-1 FA Cup win over Peterborough, but was coy on any January transfer activity.
It included the return of captain John Terry – who was sent off in the 67th minute – alongside Kurt Zouma, with Michy Batshuayi, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek also given their chances to shine.
The Italian boss said he was pleased the team had gelled to pick up the victory that booked their place in the fourth round draw on Monday, while remained tight-lipped on any potential incomings this month.
“I am pleased with our performance and the result and because we can go into the next round in this competition,” Conte said after the game.
“Today we changed nine players because I think in this game I could take the opportunity to see some players that, in this period, are not playing a lot. I saw a lot of positives situations.
“I think we faced a good team, but today we showed big commitment and we showed how to be a team. We won as a team and this is the most important thing because when you change nine players, it is not easy to find your ideal football quickly.
“But it happened and I am pleased for the players, I am pleased for me and for our work. Now it is important to continue with many good answers.
“I continue to repeat that in January, it is not easy because in this window, it is very difficult to find great players.
“We stay on top of the table with this squad and I am grateful for my players for this. January is very difficult to find opportunities. If we find these to improve out teams, we will do this and the club know my ideas on this.
“I am very pleased to work with this team and this players. We will fight until the end to take the best this season.”
It was a good afternoon for Batshuayi, who has been under scrutiny since his summer move from Marseille. He scored Chelsea’s second goal just before half time and also assisted the second of Pedro’s two strikes on Sunday afternoon.
Although he is unlikely to replace star striker Diego Costa in terms of form any time soon, he did come in for praise from Conte who said the Belgium international gives him a number of options for future matches.
“Michy played a good game. During the match, he always stayed into our philosophy and our idea of football,” Conte added. “He showed me great commitment and great work rate in this game. He scored a good goal which is always good for a forward and their confidence.
“He has to continue to work in this way. He is a young player and he is working a lot and improving. I think today he showed that he is improving and now it important for him to continue in this way and to give me the opportunity to have another solution in our squad.”
Despite the scoreline, Sky Bet League One side Peterborough did have spells where they pushed their Premier League opponents – with Tom Nichols the man on target in the 70th minute – and manager Grant McCann said he was proud of his side.
“The difference in the game was they were clinical, we weren’t,” he said. “I don’t think we came here and disgraced ourselves. We could’ve come here and defended deeper and tried to frustrate them. But I thought we may as well come here and give it a go. I thought we did that.”