Antonio Conte made it clear who was the boss at Chelsea when he refused to cave into Diego Costa's demands to be substituted during their 3-0 win over Leicester City. The striker started the game on four yellow cards and was aware that another booking will rule him out of the highly anticipated clash against Manchester United next Sunday (23 October) and therefore asked to be substituted with 70 minutes on the clock.
The Italian manager refused his requests and kept the striker on until the final whistle, which was a big risk as one booking would have ensured Conte was without his top scorer for the visit of the Red Devils. The former Juventus manager revealed after the game that the Brazil-born Spain international is too important a player to be taken off despite his team looking comfortable with a 3-0 lead at the time of his request.
The striker also looked to have picked up a knock after he was seen clutching his leg in the final moments of the game, but Conte brushed it off suggesting that Costa was in good shape. Chelsea will have a full week's rest before they welcome United to Stamford Bridge as they are not involved in Europe this season, while their opponents will have a clash against Fenerbahce in the Europa League just three days before on Thursday (20 October).
"If I can I want to keep Costa on until the end, he's an important player with great personality. I know it was a risk because if he got another yellow card he would miss the next game but his passion is important for the team and he must transfer this in every minute of the game," Conte said, as quoted by the Chelsea's official site.
"I always take the responsibility in every situation, positive or negative, substitutions are always my decision."
"I think Diego is in good shape," the Italian coach said with regards to his top marksman's fitness, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.