Antonio Conte admits that because his English is not yet at the level he would want, he still finds it difficult to motivate his players with words, but they have now made it a lot easier. They have brought it down to numbers.
Specifically, the number six. The countdown is on. After defeating Manchester City 2-1, Chelsea just have to win six games to win the title.
“In Italy, for me, honestly, it was easier to find the right words to motivate my players,” Conte said. “Here, I’m studying English but I’m not at a great level to give motivational talks. But I try. I push sometimes with words, sometimes with my hands. Numbers now… six wins. Six wins.”
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings
1/22 Thibaut Courtois - 6
Completely at fault for Aguero's equaliser - a rare lapse in concentration. Showed his strengths moments later though to deny Sane a one-on-one chance on goal.
2/22 Cesar Azpilicueta - 6
Decision making was on point for much of the evening and kept a calm head under pressure.
3/22 Kurt Zouma - 7
A respectable return to the starting line-up. After months on the sideline he seemed to cope well with both the pace and intensity of the game.
4/22 David Luiz - 7
A fierce and fiery performance from the Brazilian. Hit hard in his challenges and dealt with Aguero well.
5/22 Gary Cahill - 6
Solid as ever in his reading of the game and challenges, both on the deck and in the air.
6/22 Marcos Alonso - 6
Handled his defensive duties well and proved effective on the front foot.
7/22 N'Golo Kante - 6
Industrious as ever with his running and positioning but one of his more quiet evenings. Conceded a sloppy foul on the edge of his own box which City nearly equalised from.
8/22 Cesc Fabregas - 6
Kept the ball moving well in the middle and was relatively effective in dictating the flow of the game.
9/22 Pedro - 7
Dealt well with his defensive responsibilities tonight and got well forward to put the City defence under pressure. Questionable touches/passes here and there but overall a good night from him.
10/22 Eden Hazard - 8
Once again, Hazard proved to be the difference. Took his first goal well from a difficult angle and reacted well in his penalty attempt to grab Chelsea's second.
11/22 Diego Costa - 6
Another mixed performance. Menaced the City backline with his physical presence but his hold-up play was found wanting at times. It ultimately fell to others to make the difference tonight.
12/22 Willy Caballero - 6
Completely misjudged Hazard’s first goal. Despite taking an unfortunate deflection off Kompany, he should have done better in dealing with the strike. To his credit, he saved Hazard’s initial penalty kick but couldn’t stop the forward from following up.
13/22 Fernandinho - 5
His reckless challenge on Pedro cost City dearly and handed the home side their second goal. Too hot-headed.
14/22 John Stones - 6
Dominated in his aerial battles but struggled to deal with Hazard’s pace and quick feet. Had a glorious chance to equalise in the second half but couldn’t find the goal.
15/22 Vincent Kompany - 5
For all his fight and heart, there was a certain sharpness missing to his game tonight. His weak positioning afforded Hazard the space for his first goal while his lack of pace saw him struggle to keep up with the tempo of the game at times.
16/22 Gael Clichy - 6
Linked up with City's forward players well and was a nuisance in getting in behind the Blues defence.
17/22 Fabian Delph - 5
A series of early, well-timed challenges boded well but he looked out of depth at times. Not a surprise given his lack of Premier League football this season.
18/22 Jesus Navas - 5
A quiet evening as a whole. Had very little say for himself.
19/22 Kevin de Bruyne - 6
Sloppy passing in the centre of park let team-mates down on occasion. Kept him self busy nonetheless and wasn’t afraid to take on his opposite men.
20/22 David Silva - 7
One of City’s more effective players - especially in the first half. His slick passing and clever link-up play kept the visitors’ midfield ticking over. Created numerous chances too and found himself well positioned to set up City’s equaliser. Couldn't find that all important equaliser though.
21/22 Leroy Sane - 6
Had the chance to put City ahead after Aguero’s equaliser in the first half. Flashed with brilliance but couldn't sustain such form throughout the night.
22/22 Sergio Aguero - 6
A classic poachers finish for City's goal. Certainly kept the Chelsea backline busy but it wasn't to be his night.
Conte said he was unaware of what was happening with Tottenham, as they scored three times at Swansea City late on to win 3-1, a result that could have made things much more pressurised for Chelsea had there been a late City goal at Stamford Bridge. Instead, it merely allowed him to preach the same message to his players: to concentrate on what they do.
“No,” he said when asked whether he knew the Spurs score, “but first of all I think it's better to look at ourselves. Not see the other. Tottenham's result is important, but the most important results is ours. We have to continue to think like this. The best way is to think that Tottenham could win eight games. I think this. For this reason, to win the title, we need 18 more points. This is the best way for us [to think].
“A big win for us. It wasn't easy. But when you play against City, it's normal to suffer in some parts of the game. But I think we suffered as a team in the right way. The first half was very open, chances for one side and then the other. Usually I don't like this happening. In the second half we defended very well, with good balance.
"It was a good win for us, above all because you played after a bad defeat against Crystal Palace where I think we didn't deserve to lose. At this part of the season it's not easy because the pressure is very high. To drop points at this moment would not have been good because you give hope to your opponents.”
“We will remember this season if we win [the title]. If we do not win after a season... Only if you win do you write it in history. When there is the possibility to send a message to the players [I do], but these players don't need me to give them this message. They know very well the situation.
"The only message I have given them is that Tottenham must win eight games. So we must make six wins and take 18 points. If we do this, we will win the title. If we don't do that, it will have been a good season, but not a 'good' season.”
It will now only take six wins.Reuse content