Chelsea star Eden Hazard is "very close" to full fitness but Antonio Conte has refused to guarantee that the Belgium international will make his starting line-up when Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday (17 September). Danny Drinkwater is ruled out due to injury while the Italian boss suggested that he is yet to decide whether to use Gary Cahill or Antonio Rudiger in the heart of his back-line.
Hazard is yet to start a game for Chelsea this season after after suffering an ankle ligament injury while on international duty earlier in June.
However, the 26-year-old winger came off the bench in the last two victories over Leicester and Qarabag to regain some match fitness and could be ready to start against Arsenal.
"For sure he's improving. Having this patience with him is paying off. He is very close to being totally fit," Conte said in the press conference when asked whether the Belgium will start on Sunday.
"We have to continue in this way. I have to make the best decision for the team and the players, but he's improving a lot and is very close to being 100 per cent fit."
Conte also rested Alvaro Morata, David Luiz, Victori Moses, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Rudiger in the Champions League win over Qarabag amid suggestions that they could all start against Arsenal.
Cahill, meanwhile, returned to the centre of the back-line alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and Andres Christensen after being out of action through suspension since seeing a straight red card against Burnley on the opening game of the season.
"For Gary he came back against Qarabag, he played very well with a good performance. I am pleased for him. I have another day to reflect and make the best decision for Sunday," Conte said when asked whether the Captain will remain in the line-up against Arsenal.
"I have another day to check on the physical condition of my players and then I'll try to make the best decision for the Arsenal game. The answer of my players in the last game was positive. I'm pleased with the commitment and the performance of my players, it was very positive. Now there is another tough game,
"Arsenal are one of the top six teams in England. They have a very good squad and have the chance to fight for the title. It's a massive game for us. When you play against Arsenal it's always a massive game – the same as against [Manchester] City, [Manchester] United, Liverpool, Tottenham. Anything can happen. We have to fight against a rival. I watched their game [on Thursday] and they rotated a lot of players and rested a lot of players for the game against us, so I don't think the fact they played after us is an advantage."
Meanwhile, Conte revealed that summer signing Drinkwater will be unable to make his debut due to a calf injury which is expected to keep him on the sidelines until next month.
"He had a muscular problem in his calf and it is very difficult to see him (back) before the international break. He needs time to recover," the Chelsea boss confirmed.
"It's a pity because he was starting to work, to improve his physical condition and understand our idea of football. Now we have to move all these situations (rotation of team) for two-three weeks - I don't know."