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Conference Call: Ready for the battle

Antonio Conte praised the attitude of his team after yet another win and he also singled out the individual impact made by Cesc Fabregas and Thibaut Courtois at the Stadium of Light.

It was the Spaniard who netted in the North-East with a well-placed strike from outside the box, and it was our keeper who ensured that was the only goal with a couple of sensational second-half saves.

In his assessment of the match afterwards, Conte reflected on those facts as he considered why the evening hadn’t gone completely smoothly even if we returned south with another three-point haul…

‘We created many chances to score the second goal and kill the game,’ Conte noted. ‘At the end, Sunderland had a great chance to draw. Only a great save from Thibaut allowed us to win.

‘But to win 10 games in a row is not easy and I am pleased for my players. It’s fantastic, above all in this league when you have to fight in every game until the end to take the three points. They deserve this for their commitment and work-rate every day.

‘Now we have to continue as in three days we have another tough game against Crystal Palace. I hope we recover very well after this battle and to arrive at Christmas in an incredible position in the table.’

Fabregas has now started two of our past three games

‘I am very happy for him. Cesc is a great example for the other players because this was only the third game he has started [in the league]. This month he has a fantastic attitude, great behaviour, great commitment. I have four midfielders and I have to try to make the best choice before every game, and consider also when we have to face a physical opponent and when we need more technique. His answer was very good today and also against Manchester City.’

Sunderland changed formation to mimic us

'I am seeing that now, if you compare with when we started playing 3-4-3, many teams try to disrupt our play and our football, and try to avoid us developing our football. For this reason, it’s important to work more and increase our confidence and knowledge of this system. But it’s good to see the opponent change their system to block you.'

We move on to 40 points from 16 games, six clear of Liverpool in second

'I prefer not to look at the table, for me and my players. We are doing something important up to now, but the league didn’t finish today. We are on top of the table but there are still three games before the end of the first part of the season. This league is very tough and until the end it will be a great battle between six teams.'

Oscar has been heavily linked with a move away from the club and his future was discussed

'The situation of Oscar will be clear in the next days. I prefer to stop talking! Oscar started the season very well with us when we played 4-3-3. When I switched to another formation he didn’t play a lot but I always count on him because he is a really good young player. Sometimes there are situations that are very difficult to face, but his situation will be clearer in the next days.'

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