Having become the latest Chelsea manager to extend our long unbeaten home run against Tottenham, Antonio Conte spoke about a player and a crowd who helped make the difference on Saturday.
The 2-1 win against a Spurs side previously unbeaten this season contrasted with the defeat at Arsenal in our previous Premier League London derby and was another indication of how far the team have come in the past two months.
Pedro, a goalscorer on Saturday, is one of the players who has hit top form since coming into the team for Willian against Leicester when the Brazilian was on compassionate leave.
‘Pedro is playing great football,’ confirmed Conte.
‘He’s enjoying this type of football and showing his quality. It’s not easy for me to make the decision between him and Willian but he’s playing very well and deserved to play. I’m very happy for him and Moses, another player who in pre-season you wouldn’t think would be in the starting 11.
‘Pedro scored a great goal but he worked a lot for the team, that’s what I want to see and it’s important to continue in this way. It’s also important for us to see Willian [a second-half substitute v Spurs] after a bad period for him.’
Moving on to the support for players from around the pitch, the Italian was again impressed the supporters urging on of the team matched his own.
‘On Saturday our fans were very important,’ he praised. ‘They pushed us and supported us a lot during the game. We knew the importance of the game for our fans. It was a special game, we haven’t lost it for over 25 years, I know this, and Tottenham were unbeaten. After this game I can say they deserved to arrive before it unbeaten, they’ve shown they are a great team.
‘It’s important for our fans to live the game with great intensity and passion because they can transfer this to the players. Stamford Bridge is perfect if we are able to create the right atmosphere, it’s really important for us.’
It is one stiff examination of Chelsea credentials successful passed with another on the horizon, a visit to third-placed Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime.
‘It’s a big test because Man City are a fantastic team, but Saturday was a good test for us,’ notes the Italian. ‘Now we are a different team to two months ago. It would have been very difficult to win the Tottenham game if we were the same team as two months ago.
‘I love the mentality of my players, I saw a great attitude and great commitment from all of them. I see the will to change something from the past, now it’s important to continue.’