Crystal Palace vs Chelsea FC - Alan Pardew praises Antonio Conte's impact at Chelsea

Posted Saturday, December 17, 2016 by PA

Alan Pardew has praised the job Antonio Conte has so far done at Chelsea, but stressed his "fabulous" influence owes much to the players he inherited.

Crystal Palace host Chelsea on Saturday when Conte's team hope to set a new club record of 11 straight league wins and strengthen their lead at the top of the Premier League.

They have been transformed since the Italian adopted the increasingly-popular 3-4-3 formation, in which summer signings David Luiz and Marcos Alonso have excelled as much as the team-mates who struggled under Jose Mourinho last season.

Pardew also recognises they look "unbeatable", but is adamant it is the players and not the system that is responsible for their success.

"It's a system he knows very well; he's coached that system so he's got it pretty nailed down," said Pardew of the former Juventus and Italy manager. "But they've still got world-class players.

"Don't think it's about this, or that. The manager's done a great job but the world-class players are at the top of their game. And the best thing he's done is not the system: he's man-managed those people to perform better.

"(Eden) Hazard and (Diego) Costa are a different proposition this year, and they'll be the first to admit that, (Cesc) Fabregas too.

"Coming from Serie A it's a different type of football and he's got to grips with the toughness of the Premier League, and the physicality of it. He inherited players that were used to it, and he's been helped by that.

"(But) he's still done a fabulous job, the system suits them, and at the moment they look unbeatable."

A groin injury suffered by Mathieu Flamini means he has joined James Tomkins, Connor Wickham, Bakary Sako, Loic Remy, Pape Souare and Steve Mandanda on the sidelines. Jason Puncheon is available again after the midfielder served a one-match ban.

Meanwhile Conte has branded China's spending power a "danger" to global football as Chelsea star Oscar closes in on a January move to Shanghai SIPG.

Chelsea boss Conte has all but admitted that the Brazil forward will leave Stamford Bridge next month, in an expected B£52million deal.

Oscar is understood to have agreed a wage of B#400,000 a week, with Shanghai eclipsing the spending power of most Premier League clubs. Club captain John Terry has also been linked with a move to Shanghai Shenhua, coached by his old Blues team-mate Gus Poyet, in the new year.

Blues manager Conte insisted he will not worry about the Chinese threat however, labelling playing in the Premier League a "great honour".

"I don't know exactly the amount or the situation, but I think in the right moment you will know the situation," said Conte regarding Oscar's impending move to China.

"But now we have to wait. I think when it will be the moment, you'll know Oscar's situation.

"The Chinese market is a danger for all teams in the world. Not only for Chelsea but all teams in the world.

"But I think that we must be concentrated on our work. I think that this league is fantastic and to play in this league is a great opportunity, a great honour.

"You must be very proud to play in this league. Because I think now it's the best league in the world.

"For this season, I don't worry about this."

Eden Hazard should be fit for Saturday's clash as Chelsea bid to equal their club-record 11-straight Premier League wins.

Terry remains sidelined with a gluteal strain, with no date yet pencilled in for his return.

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