Conte: Talking targets
news Mon 11 Dec 2017
As we await the draw for the Champions League round of 16 later today, Antonio Conte reiterated the importance of finishing in the top four of the Premier League this season.
The Blues will have an opportunity to get back to winning ways in the English top flight when we travel to Huddersfield Town tomorrow evening, our second away game in succession after the defeat to West Ham United on Saturday evening.
By then we will know which side we have drawn in the first knockout round in this season's Champions League, which take place across February and March, but at the moment Conte's sole focus is in ensuring we finish high enough in the Premier League this term to ensure we are back in the competition next term.
'We have three possibilities – to play against Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona or Besiktas,' he said of today's draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, which begins at 11am UK time.
'But now it is very important for us to be focused on the league, to go game by game, to try to find the right energy to play every three days and to take three points in the kind of game we had against West Ham.
'There is a problem in this league: there are six top teams and only four places for the Champions League.
'You have targets and also, if Manchester City has many points over you, you have an important target to try to go in the first four and to play Champions League.
'Don't forget, two years ago Chelsea missed this target and last season we didn't play European games. Last season Arsenal and Manchester United were out of these places. Then Manchester United won the Europa League, otherwise they were out [of the Champions League] and also Arsenal, for the first time in 19 years.
'To reach this target is not simple. It's very important for me, the players, for all of us. This league is not simple to reach the top four positions.'
Next up for Chelsea is a trip to face a Huddersfield Town side who snapped a run of four consecutive defeats by beating fellow Premier League newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion at the weekend.
It will be our first trip to the home of the Terriers for a top-flight game since August 1971, when John Hollins and Peter Osgood scored in a 2-1 win, and Conte hopes to see a clinical performance from his side.
'It's not right to lose confidence,' he siad. 'Don't forget, we shot 19 times [against West Ham] but we didn't score. For sure we have to improve our finishing and try to be more clinical.
'The game against Atletico Madrid was the same, we created many chances – we scored but it was an own-goal. Also against Swansea, we won, but it was only 1-0.
'Against Newcastle we won 3-1 but we created a lot of chances to score. We must learn to be more clinical, and then to rest and recover energy, because it is not simple to play every three days.
'This is for all of the players – we are a team and we must improve as a team.'