Antonio Conte urges his Chelsea players to remain focused with the Premier League finish line in sight

Chelsea had to wait until all of their Premier League title rivals had played before travelling to the London Stadium and Conte has praised the mentality of his victorious side

Click to follow

Antonio Conte has urged his players to remain focused as they enter the business end of the season, with a 2-1 win against West Ham moving Chelsea ten points clear at the top of the Premier League with just eleven games remaining. 

Chelsea were forced to wait until after all of their title rivals had played this weekend but goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa gave them a comfortable win away to their London rivals.

The win stretched the club’s unbeaten run to 7 league matches and Conte has said he is delighted with how his players are coping with the pressure, especially as he knows the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino remain confident that their clubs can catch Chelsea.

“Now there are only 11 games left and in this period it is very important to live with the pressure in the right way,” Conte said. “Especially when you play the game after your opponent has won a game.

“I think that until now we are deserving to stay on top of the table and that it is important to continue in this position. It is important for us to know they have this ambition, but for sure, it won’t be easy and we know this.

“It won’t be easy because Tottenham and City will make it very tough until the end. I have listened to the coaches of the other teams and they trust to win and it is right for them to have this ambition. So we must keep our desire for the fight.”

West Ham started brightly at the London Stadium and enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges although they struggled to convert their greater share of possession into goal-scoring opportunities. 

Eden Hazard scored Chelsea’s opening goal on the counter-attack and the league leaders were comfortable thereafter, Diego Costa bundling in from close-range to double their advantage before Manuel Lanzini pulled one back for West Ham in injury time.

Chelsea were impressive throughout but it was the late goal from Lanzini that particularly irked Conte, the Italian warning his players after the match that they must make sure they kill off teams when they have the chance to avoid any late-match jitters.

9-lanzini.jpg

Lanzini scored late on (West Ham United via Getty)

“We scored out first goal but we must then try to finish the game,” Conte said. “We had more chances to score and we must be more clinical. 

“When the match remains at 1-0 or 2-0, in England, anything can happen. You can see that tonight — West Ham have scored very late on and we could have been in trouble for this reason. We have to be more clinical so that when we create the chances we can score. 

“And we have to make sure we don’t concede those type of last minute goals.”

bilic.jpg

Bilic was disappointed with the result (Getty)

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic meanwhile remarked that Chelsea have the look of Premier League champions as he was left to reflect on a sixth home defeat of the season.

Ahead of the match, Antonio Conte had spent much of his pre-match press conference acknowledging what a powerful side West Ham were and how they would pose his three man defence a threat through their direct forward play.

But after Chelsea’s 2-1 win, the only manager praising the power of his opponents was Bilic.

“I can see [Chelsea] staying on top with the quality they have and with how solid they are. And they are in physically good shape, too,” Bilic said.

“They always defend in numbers, the minimum with five and two holding midfields. And then because they are really fit they can make the defensive transitions. So of course I am impressed with them.”

Comments