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Conference Call: Follow the leader

After watching his team rack up an 11th straight win in the Premier League, Antonio Conte considered the factors behind our success so far this season.

Diego Costa’s first-half goal was the difference as we recorded a third successive 1-0 win and the boss also spoke on his absence for our next fixture because of suspension.

First though he assessed today’s victory, which set a new club record for consecutive league wins in a single season…

‘Today, if you arrive here without the right concentration, the right focus, the will to fight and go into battle with the opponent, you lose this game,’ Conte pointed out.

‘Instead, we have great quality, and the players are putting this quality in the team. This is the real secret for Chelsea now.

‘We are working a lot to reach this level in the table. To win 11 games in a row in this league is not simple, now and in the future. I hope to continue this way but I know every game is tough. The next game against Bournemouth will be very tough, and then Stoke City.’

The winning sequence started when we changed to a 3-4-3 formation

‘Before the season I said one thing: the manager must be a tailor. They must try to find the right fit for your team. It wasn’t easy to arrive and understand the characteristics of my players very soon. I needed a bit of time.

‘The most important thing is the mentality, a strong mentality. Also, at work during the week - tactical work, physical work, technical work, analysis work, good food – we touched different aspects to try to improve.

‘You can bring your idea of football but if you haven’t the players who follow this idea it’s very difficult for a manager.’

Conte doesn’t expect another Premier League team to win 11 in a row any time soon

‘If I don’t say I am pleased for this record I am dishonest. I am not a person who loves stats, but it’s my first season in England and to win 14 games out of 17 is fantastic.

‘I like to see the present but I look more to see the future, and I want the future to be special for us. The only way for this is to work.

‘We have room to improve. We are working on our principles. This season I tried to play with different formations. Now we found a good balance offensively and defensively.

‘I think now is not a good idea to change it!'

Diego Costa was the matchwinner but the striker got a booking ruling him out of Boxing Day’s game

‘I hoped Diego would arrive after the game against Stoke without a yellow card, but it didn’t happen. It’s a pity because he’s in a good moment of form. I think he didn’t deserve the yellow card, I must be honest.

‘We will have eight days to find a different solution against Bournemouth. It’s an opportunity for me to see another idea, but yes, we are disappointed to lose him.’

That could mean a start for Michy Batshuayi

‘It’s not easy to arrive and understand and adapt to his league. I can see another example, Zaza at West Ham. I know him very well, he played with me at the Euros, and he is a good player, but in England he is having a lot of difficulty.

‘This football is very tough, very physical. Michy has good quality, he’s very young, and it’s important for him to continue to work and improve, and I think this season he can have a good satisfaction.'
 

Alan Pardew felt there was no more his team could have done to win…

'They were very sound defensively,' the Palace manager began, 'and didn’t give us any chance to get at them as we would have liked. They had a good shape and discipline and probably did enough offensively to edge it.  We threw everything we could at them but they were too good defensively.'

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