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In Dropping David Luiz, Antonio Conte Sends Strong Message to Chelsea Roster

08 November 2017

After a third straight Stamford Bridge win over ex-Blues boss Jose Mourinho's United, Conte's men moved to within a point of secondplaced United - nine behind Manchester City.

Conte was coy as to why he left Luiz out, claiming he was just handing the Brazilian a rest, but Luiz himself, via the Times, believes he's being punished for his friendship with Diego Costa.

The dropping of Luiz created a real buzz: no injury; entirely tactical; had he and Antonio Conte had a falling out?

'I don't know, I think he handled the situation like any other manager would after a disappointing match'.

He's now out of the picture, but Luiz regularly stepped in to defend his close friend and acted as a peacemaker, which the centre-back thinks Conte is now punishing him for.

The former Paris Saint Germain star, one of the key players in Chelsea's title triumph last term, watched from the stands as Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill filled the central defensive positions for the champions.

The Brazilian is due back at training on Wednesday following his bust-up with Blues boss Conte.

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The exchange followed the 3-0 Champions League defeat to Roma.

"[It was] only a tactical decision, I repeat, only a tactical decision", he told reporters after the match.

"The coach has to make the best decision for the team and the best decision for the team was to play with Christensen", Conte said.

"I decided this way tonight, maybe I can decide a different way in the future or I can continue the same way". "I have to make the best decision for the team and I try to do this".

"I'd be happy to eat humble pie if I'm wrong - and there's part of me that will be pleased if I am because I've a lot of respect for the guy. Sometimes, I can make mistakes or sometimes I can do the best thing".

Yes, reporters were probably right to sniff a bit of blood in the water at Luiz's demotion not to the bench, but to the stands.

In Dropping David Luiz, Antonio Conte Sends Strong Message to Chelsea Roster