Chelsea's Conte focused on Premier League triumph, not records

By AFP
Published: December 27, 2016
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LONDON: Chelsea manager Antonio Conte insisted that his focus is on the Premier League title and not seeing his side set a new record of successive league victories.

Chelsea set new club record of 12 straight win after defeating Bournemouth 3-0 on Monday, one short of Arsenal’s single-season mark from 14 years ago.

Victory over Stoke at Stamford Bridge next weekend will set up the possibility of Conte’s side breaking the record at Tottenham Hotspur.

Conte, though, says the only thing that concerns him is the impact on the table that shows Chelsea clear in top spot.

“If you ask me, I hope to continue winning until the end of the season but, for sure, it is not easy,” said Conte. “I am pleased to see my players with great concentration and focus, with great will to fight and continue in this way.

“To win 12 games in a row is not easy in this league, so it’s a fantastic run but it’s important to continue that now.

“For me, it’s important only for the table and with these 12 wins in a row, we took 36 points and our table position is fantastic now.”

Pedro set Conte’s side on course for victory with a 24th-minute opener before Eden Hazard added the second from the penalty spot four minutes into the second half and the former Barcelona striker added the third in injury time.

Victory on the Boxing Day was achieved without suspended duo striker Diego Costa and defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante, and former Juventus boss believes this only increased the scale of his side’s achievement.

“I think today we sent a good message,” said Conte. “Because a lot of people waited to see how we will perform with two really important players and if we could lose points in this game.

“But it didn’t happen so I am pleased for this, because I can count on all my players in the squad. I try in every game to make the best decision for the team without looking at the faces.”

Conte opted to employ Hazard as a central striker, forcing 23-year-old Belgian international forward Michy Batshuayi to continue his wait for a first league start since his £33 million arrival from Marseille.

“After the Crystal Palace game, I said we had a week to work to find the right solution, to play for the first time without Diego, without Kante,” said Conte. “After a week of work, I decide to choose this type of solution, with Eden, Pedro and Willian. I’m pleased for the performance of these players.

“I think that Michy is a really good player, but a young player and he is trying to adapt to this league. I try to make the best decision for the team but I am sure that Michy could have the possibility to show his talent in the future.”

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe admitted the defeat had taught his side a valuable lesson.

“When you have Hazard, Pedro and Willian, counter-attacking with such pace it’s difficult,” said Howe. “I think that was probably the thing where we fell short, on the ball we gave them too many times to get into those situations by not being tight enough or good enough on the ball in those situations.

“That’s something we take away from this game.”

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