Monday, 6 March 2017

Antonio Conte Tells Chelsea To Finish Job Ahead Of West Ham Clash

Chelsea's closest title rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City both secured victories on Sunday, meaning the Premier League leaders need to win at the London Stadium to restore their 10-point advantage at the top of the table.

West Ham beat Conte's side in the EFL Cup in October in one of just two losses in 24 games for Chelsea since September, but the Blues have since produced an almost unblemished run which included a 13-game winning streak in the top flight.

Top performers Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, David Luiz and N'Golo Kante have all been touted as possible recipients of the Player of the Year award at the end of the season, but Conte advised against premature celebrations.

"All my players are playing very well and deserve the best," he said. "But it's important in this case to finish the right way and try to win. Only if you win will people remember you."

Chelsea's success in the league has been attributed partly to their absence from European competition, having failed to qualify after finishing 10th last season in a campaign which saw Jose Mourinho sacked as the club's manager.

Mourinho's new side, Manchester United, are currently ranked lowest of the remaining top-six sides vying for a minimum fourth-place finish and Champions League qualification, and Conte believes the competition for European places is testament to the level of the Premier League.

"The Champions League, I think, must be an appointment for us every year. It must be (at) our house," Conte added.

"We started our season trying to fight until the end to win the title, and to try and fight until the end to be in the right position to go into next season's Champions League. This was our target.

"It wasn't easy to start the season and know that six strong teams fight for the title and the Champions League.

"Don't forget, in this six teams, two won't play in the Champions League next season. They have to go into the Europa League, which is a bit different.

"Now this league is very, very difficult. To win the title and also to find a place to play the Champions League is not easy."

Chelsea could only manage a draw in their last away fixture, against Burnley at Turf Moor, and Conte is expecting West Ham to be similar in more ways than just their claret and blue strip.

"This game against West Ham, for us, is very important," Conte said. "In the last away game, the way we played against Burnley, we drew. They played very physical football against us.

"Maybe it can happen, the same, against West Ham on Monday. But for this reason we are preparing for this type of situation. It will be a really tough game."

Chelsea's EFL Cup exit was overshadowed when segregation broke down in the London Stadium. The club have been in communication with West Ham over security measures for Monday's match and Conte called for a good atmosphere.

"Last time wasn't good," he said. "I hope in this game our fans, the West Ham fans, enjoy totally the game and find the right atmosphere.

"I think the players, the club, the country deserves this."



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