Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says he risked Diego Costa missing the upcoming match with Manchester United because his passion was required in the win over Leicester City.
Premier League top goalscorer Costa netted for the seventh time in the top-flight this season as the Blues cruised to a 3-0 victory over the champions at Stamford Bridge.
However, the striker appeared to be frustrated as he regularly called to be substituted
in the second half on Saturday as his four yellow cards in the first seven games had left him one away from missing the crunch clash with United on October 23.
Conte confirmed after the match that Costa was not injured and he had decided to keep him for tactical reasons.
“He is in good physical shape,” Conte said at his post-match media conference.
“It is always my decision to take a substitution – I decide, me. I take the responsibility in every situation – whether it is positive or negative – and Costa always obeys the decision.
“I kept Costa on until the end of the game because he is an important player for us.
“I know I took a risk but we need his passion in every moment of the game.
“I want him to stay on because you must understand that for this team he is a player with a great personality and – if I can – I maintain him on the pitch until the end in every game.
“I risked it because if Diego took another yellow card he would miss the game against Manchester United but for me today the game was more important than the other game.
“Now we can begin thinking about the next one.”
Conte has been thrilled with the improved defensive solidity Chelsea have shown since his switch to a 3-4-3 system, with Leicester unable to register a shot on target.
The manager continued: “I changed the system. After we conceded a lot of goals I decided to change it.
“I think we played a very good game, with a very good idea of football. With high intensity and good passing.
“In these two games we have conceded zero goals and not lost our offensive play. The system should suit every single player.”
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