Chelsea fans panic after Eden Hazard pulled out of Belgium squad

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte described Diego Costa as an example to his team-mates after the Premier League leaders went 13 points clear with a 2-1 win at Stoke City.

"I think Diego is showing not only in this game that you have to be very disciplined".

Hazard played the full 90 minutes against Man United in the FA Cup semi-final win on Monday, in which he was repeatedly fouled.

"From my perspective it's frustrating because I've not really had too many of them (mistakes) this season but fortunately I was able to make some saves in the second half which kept us in the game".

Inter have not given up the chase to try to bring Chelsea boss Antonio Conte back to Italy next season.

"This is not the first time because it happened against Burnley".

Yet as the debates about his prospects became ever louder - one airplane trailed a banner over the ground that declared "Wenger Out" while another trumpeted "In Arsene We Trust" - the Frenchman said he would clarify his future soon.

His tussles with Martins Indi were a feature of the game from the off, and referee Anthony Taylor had to speak to both players following an early off-the-ball tangle.

On the game itself, Conte observed: "For sure, an important win against a strong team". No reunion between Costa and Ryan Shawcross was likely to end in cuddles and compliments, but many of Chelsea's first-half struggles were directly related to their striker spending more of his time wrestling opposition defenders than providing an effective focal point.

The Potters keeper looked uncomfortable at set-piece situations, although there was little he could do but be thankful Alonso's 25-yard effort struck the crossbar.

Willian whipped in a free-kick from the left towards goal and Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant couldn't keep it out at the near post. But after a season without continental competition Conte may feel that a slight restructuring of the squad may be in order for the step up in class and playing demands of the Champions League.

Chelsea continued their march towards the Premier League title this weekend after beating Stoke City 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium. "Then it's better, I think". Don't forget, Chelsea is a great team and must play always to win.

"I know in the past sometimes he has received two yellow cards and not finished the game, but this season I have to be pleased for him and for his behaviour", added Conte.

  • Julie Sanders