Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has played down the significance of leaving David Luiz out of the starting lineup for Sunday's win over Manchester United.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has played down the significance of leaving David Luiz out of the starting line-up for Sunday's win over Manchester United, even choosing to pick teenage midfielder Ethan Ampadu on the bench instead of the experienced Brazilian.
Luiz was carrying no injury and his omission quickly led to speculation that something more sinister is afoot and that his days at Stamford Bridge, for the second time, could be numbered.
Yet Conte has declared it was tactics and tactic only that ruled, with Andreas Christensen drafted into the team at Stamford Bridge instead. Luiz did sit with the Chelsea squad during the game, but wore his own clothes rather than any team attire.
"The coach has to make the best decision for the team, and tonight it was to play for Christensen and have Ethan Ampadu on the bench, good players for the present and future," Conte is quoted as saying by Sky Sports after the final whistle.
"I decided this tonight, maybe I can decide a different way in the future. It's normal. I have to make the best decision for the club, not for a single player."
He continued, "It was only a tactical decision. It's normal and this can happen to every one of my players. If I see they are not in good form, it's normal.
"I have to make important decisions. I have a squad with 16 senior players and five young players. I have to make the best decision for the team."
But despite Luiz's omission only be tactical, Conte did acknowledge that nothing is guaranteed for the former Paris Saint-Germain man and that every player must earn their place in the team.
"He has to work really hard otherwise [players] are on the bench or in the stand," Conte is further quoted as saying post-match by the Daily Star.