Chelsea manager praises players for wanting to keep winning this far into their remarkable run, but admits they are now on a pedestal to be aimed at by opponents
Costa terrorises Stoke as history-making Chelsea edge closer to title
Chelsea were given a scare by a Stoke City side who levelled the game at 1-1 and 2-2 before Chelsea pulled away in the second half. Conte said that opponents were more motivated to beat Chelsea now, to end their run, and that this meant his team had to work even harder to keep winning.
“We deserved to win this game” Conte said. “Now it’s not easy after 13 wins in a row, you face teams that want to beat you, not only to take three points but for many reasons. It’s more difficult. We must know this. But when you have this type of player, you can go to sleep happy.”
While Conte revels in the fact that his Chelsea team were “underestimated” at the start of the season, he recognised the fact that they are now on a perch that opponents want to knock them off. “It is important to know it’s not easy to repeat this run,” Conte said. “It will be very difficult for us over what remains of this season. We started this season as underdogs, underestimated. And now we have the light of a great first part of the season on us. The light is on Chelsea. We must realise this and we have to work more, harder still, to find, game by game, the right solution to try and win. It won’t be easy but, today, we are very happy.”
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Mark Hughes was pleased with Stoke’s “positive performance”, and said that the Premier League title would be a “close call” between Chelsea and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
“Liverpool and Chelsea are completely different in their approach,” Hughes explained. “Liverpool are high intensity pressure from the off, high up the pitch. Chelsea are more cagey, allow you play in your own half, and then are devastating on the counter-attack. Two very different styles, but both very effective at the moment. Costa’s performance today showed the value he gives to Chelsea. You wouldn’t want Chelsea to lose him because that could significantly damage their ability to win the league. But It will be a close call between those two teams to win the league.”