Chelsea must improve in order to win EPL: Conte

Manchester, Dec 4 (IANS) Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has warned his players that they need to improve their performance in order to win the English Premier League (EPL).

Chelsea made a strong statement by outplaying fellow title contenders Manchester City 3-1 here on Saturday evening. The victory at the Etihad Stadium saw the London outfit take the sole lead at the top of the EPL ladder with 34 points from 14 matches.

Fellow Londoners Arsenal — formerly the joint leaders — are now second with 31 points while Manchester City share the third spot with Liverpool at 30 points.

Chelsea have now notched up eight wins in a row, but Conte feels that there is still room for improvement.

“We have to wait for the first part of the season because we know this league is not easy. Now we are playing very well. We are playing good football, we have good confidence, but it’s important to continue to work and improve. There is room to improve,” Conte was quoted as saying by Chelsea TV.

Chelsea had conceded the lead due to an own goal by defender Gary Cahill, but fought back to score thrice in the second half through Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard.

Conte praised the Chelsea players for their performance, but also felt that there was some about of luck as well.

“It’s a big win and a big result against a really strong team.

“With the quality of players in their squad I think it’s the most complete in this league. For this reason, I am pleased with the result, and with the players. They showed me great character,” the former Italy international said.

“We were lucky at the start of the second half because there was one crossbar, and also a good save from Thibaut kept the result at 1-0. Then we found great strength to score the goal to draw, and then to score the second goal and the third goal.

“It’s fantastic this because I repeat, it’s not easy to come here and win this game. Now we have to continue,” he added.

The Manchester City players lost their cool towards the end with Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho being sent off. Aguero made an ill-timed challenge on David Luiz while Fernandinho reacted to provocation from Cesc Fàbregas by grabbing the Spain international by the neck.

Conte, however, supported the referee’s decision and praised the Chelsea players for their behaviour.

“The final (stage) wasn’t good. I hope only Luiz is not injured after this tackle. It’s very difficult to explain this final part of the game. I support the referee. It is important that the referee whistles and we ‘finish’.

“I’m happy because I always tell my players to be focused on the game on the pitch, and always to keep calm. It’s normal when you play these big games it’s not easy to keep calm in every single moment, but I’m pleased because all my players tried to keep calm,” he said.