Antonio Conte spoke about the maturity of his team following our hard-fought 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion this afternoon.
It was our ninth consecutive Premier League victory and one in which we had to wait until 14 minutes from time for the breakthrough, Diego Costa the eventual match-winner.
Conte’s side continue to show they have the ability to win football matches in different ways, with today a test of overcoming a resilient side who defended in large numbers throughout, and the Italian was delighted with the overall attitude of his players.
‘It was a very difficult game but we knew it would be, I spoke a lot in the week about the difficulty of the game because we faced a very tough team, very physical and difficult to break down,’ said Conte.
‘I’m pleased because we showed great maturity and intelligence to find the right solution. It’s another clean sheet and now it’s important to think about the next game away at Sunderland. We have only two days to prepare for the game but we must be focused, it’s an important period. Christmas is very difficult for all the teams so it’s important to win, be focused and play football with good intensity.
‘I’m pleased today because this game was very difficult and I like to see my team fight in the same way as West Brom, it wasn’t easy, but they showed me great character and a great motivation to win.
'I'd prefer to score early and take the lead but we know it’s not easy in this league. We are working very well on different aspects, not only tactical, but physical, to arrive at the end and play with great intensity, to run and to put great pressure on.'
Diego Costa proved his quality once again to score the decisive goal
‘He’s showing great passion, he likes to play football,’ said Conte. ‘He’s showing me great commitment and work-rate with and without the ball to help the team. It’s important for him to continue in this way, I’m very happy with him. Diego is a great striker and he can continue to improve his football but I’m satisfied with the work we are doing with him and the team.
January is arriving and it’s incredible because after the Arsenal defeat he had four yellow cards, he was on the edge and he continued to stay on the edge. I think he can arrive in January without a yellow card, I hope he can.’
Conte also praised second-half substitute Cesc Fabregas, who supplied the pass which led to our winner
‘Cesc is an important player for us,’ he added. ‘We all know his quality, it’s very clear. Today it was important to change the cards on the table and find a new solution to cut the point of reference for West Brom. I put on a player who is very good technically, and with a great personality.’
The Blues boss was also asked about a potential point deduction following last week’s ugly scenes at the end of the Manchester City game, sparked by Sergio Aguero’s horror challenge on David Luiz
‘Are you joking?’ he said. ‘If you’re involved in a situation and the fault is not yours, why must you pay? I don’t understand. My players tried to keep the calm. We are trying to improve in all aspects. You must be honest to understand when there is a fault of one team or both teams.
‘In every game you fight a lot during the 90 minutes and then when the ref blows his whistle you finish. I don’t know what happened in the past but I know what’s happening in the present. My players tried to keep the calm.’