Sunday 15 December 2019

Antonio Conte: Every team wants to see our winning streak end, not just Spurs

Antonio Conte believes critics of Chelsea are jealous
Antonio Conte believes critics of Chelsea are jealous

Matt McGeehan

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte says no-one wants the Premier League to become a procession.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has said everyone wants his side to win Wednesday's derby to end record-chasing Chelsea's run of 13 successive wins and Conte understands if that is the case.

"Every team wants to stop our run, not only Tottenham," Conte said.

"Don't worry about this, about the other teams, about the fans. Not one person wants to kill the championship."

Conte's Blues matched Arsenal's single-season top-flight record of 13 consecutive victories with last Saturday's defeat of Stoke.

And defeat of Spurs would draw Chelsea level with the Gunners' record mark of 14 straight wins, which ended in August 2002.

Conte played down the margin of his side's Premier League lead as the second half of the campaign begins and insists the record is not on his or his players' minds.

"If you see the table, you can see that we have only five points more than second place, from Liverpool," Conte added.

"This is a great achievement for us. To win 13 games in a row is not easy, above all in this league.

"This is a great achievement, above all because now after these 13 wins in a row we took 39 points. For the other situation (the record), it's not important for us.

"This league is very tough and every game you can lose points. For this reason it's important to keep the right concentration, to be focused in every game, if you play against Tottenham or another team.

"Me, the players, want to win to take three points."

Chelsea's seventh win in the run came at home to Tottenham in late November, when Spurs became the first team to breach the Blues' defence in more than 600 minutes of league football but still saw their 26-year wait for victory at Stamford Bridge extended.

It was suggested ending Chelsea's run would exact a measure of revenge for Spurs after the Blues ended their Premier League title hopes last term, handing Leicester the trophy.

Conte focused on his own players, adding: "I think that this type of game gives you motivation, great motivation."

Conte's men have now conceded four - after the 4-2 win over Stoke - and scored 32 in a run which has featured 10 clean sheets.

Diego Costa scored his 14th goal of the season against the Potters and afterwards spoke of his desire last summer to leave Stamford Bridge. He says he is now happy at Chelsea.

Conte has no doubts that the striker, often maligned for his temperament, is now fully committed to the cause, channelling his energy in the right way on the pitch.

"When Diego decided to stay and he told me 'I stay, I stay, I want to fight for this club, for my team-mates, for this shirt'," Conte added.

"I'm not concerned. I wasn't concerned. I think he's showing great passion in the right way, in every moment of the game.

"We're happy for this. Me, the club, his team-mates, because he's completely focused on the game. It's very important this."

Pedro, who scored against Spurs, is available following suspension, creating something of a selection quandary. The Spain forward has been in good form, but so too have Eden Hazard and Willian, who may be the most likely to make way even though he scored twice against Stoke.

Conte reported no injuries. David Luiz has been playing with heavy strapping on his right knee since being the victim of the tackle which saw Sergio Aguero sent off in the win at Manchester City last month.

"David is playing in this situation after the game against Manchester City," Conte said.

"His pain is improving a lot."

PA Media

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