Belgian forward Michy Batshuayi, yet to start for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, will have a chance to impress in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round match against Peterborough. Manager Antonio Conte told reporters on Friday that the league leaders’ home game against third tier opponents was a chance for the 23-year-old to stake his claims with top scorer Diego Costa likely to be rested.
“I have a good opportunity in this game to see Michy from the start, and this is important. Diego is doing very well, he is playing a lot,” said the Italian ahead of his first experience of the FA Cup. “I didn’t take a final decision because there is also tomorrow’s training, but for Michy it could be a good opportunity to show me his promise.” Batshuayi joined Chelsea from Olympique Marseille on a five-year deal in July but has been kept out of the starting line-up by Costa’s sizzling form.
However, he was also left on the bench, before coming on as a substitute, when the Spaniard – the league’s top scorer with 14 goals – was suspended for the league game against Bournemouth on Dec 26. There has even been speculation that Chelsea, whose record-equalling run of 13 league wins in a row ended with a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, could send him out on loan to gain match time.
“It’s not easy to arrive in England in this league and adapt very well, above all if you are striker and a young player, because this league is very physical,” Conte said. “But he is working a lot. He is improving and going into our idea of football.
“On Sunday for him and for other players it will be a good opportunity to show me he deserves to play more in the future.” Conte said French defender Kurt Zouma, who has been recovering from a knee injury, would also play for the first time this season after being an unused substitute in recent matches. “Zouma will start, he’s ready to start,” he said. “Now he is in good shape and he is ready to play and to restart his career.”