Chelsea manager Antonio Conte lavished praise on the club’s Spanish stars after Swansea were dispatched 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, in particular praising the contribution of Cesc Fabregas, who opened the scoring on his 300th Premier League appearance.
Fabregas won the ball off Tom Carroll in the middle of the pitch before powerfully driving forward, receiving the ball back from Pedro to crash a shot past Lukasz Fabianski at close range.
Pedro restored Chelsea’s lead in the second-half after Fernando Llorente headed home an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, before a fourth Spanish goal-scorer, Diego Costa, made sure of the three points with a late goal.
The win opens up Chelsea an eleven point lead at the top of the Premier League.
After the match a delighted Conte expressed his pleasure with the performance of Fabregas in particular, having dropped Nemanja Matic to hand the Spanish international his milestone cap.
“Cesc had a really good game,” Conte said during his post-match press conference. “It is important for me to have so many solutions, so that I am able to analyse things on a game by game basis.
“I consider Matic to be a top player and also Kante, of course, but Fabregas is another very good player. I am very pleased to see him in this kind of form and I am pleased to have all these different players fighting to be in the team. It is fantastic for a coach.”
Conte also made sure to praise the contribution of Pedro, who was selected over the Brazilian Willian. The 29-year-old former Barcelona winger twice nearly scored in the first-half prior to his crucial goal in the second, an optimistic shot struck from outside the area which skidded under Fabianski’s despairing dive.
“Pedro is now showing the quality that he has but it is not like we are only now finding out Pedro’s quality,” said Conte. “He is a very great player in just the same way as Willian, or Hazard, or Costa.
“I think that Pedro is playing very well with and without the ball and he is now deserves to be playing. For him to score the goal is fantastic for both him and the team and I hope that he can continue in this way with the same level of commitment.
“He has always had this quality but the formation we are playing is now better exploiting his characteristics.”
The Italian manager was delighted with the reaction of his players to Llorente’s equalising goal, which briefly threatened to see Chelsea dropping points for the second time in succession, after their
But they successfully fought back and now boast a seemingly insurmountable 11-point lead at the Premier League summit.
"I think it was very important because in this situation when the tension starts to increase, it's important also to see the right answer from my players,” added Conte.
"But I have a lot of players that played and won in the past. They know very well the way that we must continue to try to keep the top of the table, to try to win the title.
"For this reason I'm lucky. I'm lucky to have a lot of players that in the past won a lot.
"We are deserving to stay on top of the table, because we are playing good football, with good intensity.”
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