Football: Conte urges Hazard to dazzle against City

Chelsea's Eden Hazard PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Antonio Conte has challenged Eden Hazard to repeat his dazzling performance against Atletico Madrid when Chelsea face title rivals Manchester City on Saturday.

Hazard was in fine form on Wednesday as Chelsea became the first English team to win at Atletico with a 2-1 success in the Champions League.

The 26-year-old was making only his second start of the season in Madrid.

Now Hazard is poised for his first Premier League start of the campaign following three substitute appearances after surgery on his ankle.

With Premier League leaders City looking strong, Blues boss Conte wants Hazard to help the champions draw level on points with the leaders at Stamford Bridge.

"If he was able to play one game like the last game against Atletico Madrid it means he's ready now to play with continuity," Conte told reporters on Friday (Sept 29).

"For us he's an important player. Last season he had an important season, he played very well, he performed as a top player. I'm very happy for him."

City's swaggering start to the season has won plenty of admirers, with Pep Guardiola's free-scoring side installed as favourites to dethrone Chelsea.

While Guardiola is a rival on Saturday, that didn't stop Conte expressing his admiration for the Spaniard's purist principles.

"I think every coach must have an own style of football. For sure I have great respect for Pep. I think he's the best," he said.

"Every coach tries always every day to take more information, new ideas and then try to elaborate with your thoughts. I think Pep is a really good coach. I like to watch his game."

Guardiola will be without Sergio Aguero after the City striker sustained a broken rib a car crash on his day off in Holland on Thursday.

Responding to that news, Conte told his players they must take responsibility for themselves in their own time.

"When you have your day off, you must take your own responsibility to try to make the best decision for you, for the team, for the club," Conte said.

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