Eden Hazard is confident Antonio Conte will inspire Chelsea to recover from their first defeat of the season when they visit Leicester tonight (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports).
The EFL Cup third-round fixture is their first since a 2-1 loss at home to Liverpool on Friday condemned Conte to his first competitive defeat since his appointment as the club’s manager.
Hazard appears rejuvenated under the Italian, and after a disappointing 2015-16 season he believes Conte’s communication and motivation skills are key.
“He’s a top guy, he tries to speak a lot with the players, to talk a lot, and we are pleased to work with him,” the 25-year-old told Chelsea TV.
“He has the passion to do his job. He gives everything on the bench and we try to give everything on the pitch. He’s a top manager, he’s a top man.”
Conte’s arrival has also led to a resurgence in the form of Diego Costa and was followed by the summer recruitment of David Luiz and Michy Batshuayi, among others.
Ankle and anterior cruciate ligament injuries to John Terry and Kurt Zouma mean Luiz is likely to retain his place after making his first appearance back at the club against Liverpool.
“Everybody is happy to see (Luiz) back,” Hazard said. “On the pitch he is a warrior. He brings that mentality. He wants to win everything. This is what we need.”
Newcastle’s Irish striker striker Daryl Murphy could be handed his debut against Wolves.
Meanwhile keeper Loris Karius begins his quest to depose Simon Mignolet with a debut at Derby tonight (7.45pm) but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he does not have a number one in mind.
The German international, a £4.7m signing from Mainz, looked set to start the season in the team until an untimely injury in the club’s pre-season tour to the US sidelined him.
Karius had an operation to have wires inserted in his right hand after breaking a bone but having been on the bench for the last two matches, gets his first competitive appearance in the third round of the EFL Cup.
“We wanted to have two really strong goalkeepers and I think that is what we have,” said Klopp after confirming Karius will start tonight.
“There is no number one so there is no decision to make, it is all about performing, improvement and showing how much you can help the team.”
Tonight’s other fixtures (all 7.45pm):
Bournemouth v Preston; Brighton v Reading; Everton v Norwich; Leeds v Blackburn; Newcastle v Wolves.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved