Conte relaxed after rotation risk works out well for Chelsea

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While his side are lagging well behind leaders Manchester City in this season's title race, the Italian is still delighted with the way the last 12 months played out in west London.

The win lifted Chelsea up into second place in the Premier League table ahead of Manchester United's clash with Southampton later on Saturday. "For a first experience in the league, to win the title is not easy, so I have to thank the club for giving me this opportunity". To be able to do this at your first try, I will remember this year in my mind forever. "Not at all", Conte told Chelsea TV.

Conte, who himself rested Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko, believes rotation is inevitable during the busy winter period.

"And about [Charly] Musonda and Luiz, I think they are improving a lot and I think their recovery is very close".

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Hughes admitted afterwards he had prioritised Monday's crunch game at home to Newcastle by leaving out key players, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Joe Allen and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting all on the bench.

Stoke had barely touched the ball by the time Chelsea took a commanding 2-0 lead, as goals from Antonio Rudiger and Danny Drinkwater seemingly put the game beyond the Potters with just nine minutes played.

The scoring was completed by a second-half penalty from Willian and an individual effort by Davide Zappacosta, but by then Hughes' thoughts had already turned to the crucial game against fellow strugglers Newcastle. "I am the coach and I look after the things on the pitch, if the club can help us, it would be okay, but if they can't it will be okay as well".

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