Monday 22 January 2018

Chelsea are title contenders, says Ronald Koeman

Chelsea thrashed Everton at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea thrashed Everton at Stamford Bridge

Ronald Koeman believes Chelsea are on course to challenge for the Premier League title after hailing Antonio Conte's "winning mentality" following their 5-0 drubbing of Everton.

Chelsea turned in an emphatic display at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening to blow away the Toffees and move to the summit of the league.

Koeman's Everton side headed into the fixture with one of this season's meanest defences, but they were no match for Chelsea's front three of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Pedro as Conte's Blues ran riot on an explosive night in west London.

Since adapting their formation to play three at the back, Chelsea have gone on an impressive run of winning five straight games, scoring 16 times without conceding.

"The way (Manchester) City played against us was fantastic, but I've never seen a team so strong playing this system," Koeman said.

"This system is very difficult to play against, and the movement of Hazard, Pedro and Costa, is difficult.

"The manager has brought a winning mentality to the players. They are looking very hungry every game and if they keep that they will fight for the title for sure."

Chelsea were soundly beaten by Arsenal in September, but impressive victories against Hull, Leicester, Manchester United, Southampton and now Everton have propelled them to the top of the table.

David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta have formed a successful back three with Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso - who scored his first goal for Chelsea on Saturday night - operating as wing backs.

With Kante and Nemanja Matic holding fort in the middle of the field, Hazard, who had a hand in all five Chelsea goals against Everton, Pedro and Costa have sparkled in attack.

"My players adapted very quickly to this system," Conte added. "The system changed with three at the back but the principals are the same.

"I an very happy because when the players see they can do this type of performance it is important to trust in what we are doing during training.

"Now we must continue because I am sure we can improve, and we need to improve."

Chelsea's fans sang Conte's name throughout Saturday's encounter with the former Italy coach acknowledging their support.

"I didn't recognise the supporters were singing my name, and then our physical coach told me 'they are singing for you'," Conte added.

"It is good and I said thanks to the supporters because it is important, not just for me, but the players and in every moment of the game because we need their support and I hope in the future we can continue always together."

Press Association

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