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Conference Call: Easing the tension

Antonio Conte was delighted to see his team cope with conceding an unexpected equaliser and maintain a high level of intensity that ensured we secured three more Premier League points.

The boss watched on as his team recovered from Swansea’s leveller on the stroke of half-time to find the net twice in the final quarter-of-an-hour, in the process recording a 12th straight home win in all competitions, a joint club record.

He felt his players displayed different qualities against a resolute Swansea side that have markedly improved since Paul Clement’s arrival last month…

‘I am satisfied with the performance of the team,’ Conte said. ‘We played very well and we created chances to score. It wasn’t easy to play against Swansea, above all because in the last period, since Paul Clement came in, he had a great impact on the team - and created a different danger to Liverpool and Man City.

‘But today we dominated. I don’t remember one moment we suffered in the game. We played really well in the first half and it was a pity to concede at the end of the half. Maybe the time was finished, but in this case you must pay attention.’

Conte revealed his half-time instructions to his players

‘I told them we are playing very well, we are dominating the game, we are creating chances, but it’s 1-1. We don’t deserve it but it’s the reality. So go to the second half and push because we need to win.

‘They did this. We started the second half and Hazard did a great combination with Costa and Fabianski made a great save, then Fabregas hit the crossbar, then we scored the goal.

‘After the first half it was a bit frustrating for us to be drawing. But in this situation, when the tension starts to increase, it’s important to see the right answer of my players. Today I saw a lot of right answers from my players.’

Conte was asked how he is keeping his players so focused 

‘It’s not easy. To keep the concentration for the whole championship is not easy, but I have a lot of players that played and won in the past. They know very well the way we must continue to try to stay at the top of the table and win the title.

‘For this reason, I am lucky. If it happens sometime that I can see them a bit relaxed, it’s right for me to go into them and help them be focused at every moment, but honestly, until now, it wasn’t necessary to keep the concentration and focus of my players.

‘I have a team that until now deserves to be at the top of the table. Then, if we are able to win the title, I don’t know. We want to keep this position at the top. We are playing good football with good intensity, scoring a lot of goals, not conceding a lot. We deserve to be there.’

Pedro netted his 11th goal of the season and his eighth in his past 11 appearances

‘Pedro is showing his quality. We are not finding out his quality now. He’s a great player like Willian, Hazard, Costa. He’s playing very well with and without the ball. Now he deserves to play and to score goals is fantastic for him, and above all for the team. He has always had this quality, and now the formation is exploiting his characteristics even better than before.’

Clement, a long-time Chelsea coach and now in charge of Swansea, felt his team should have had a penalty for a Cesar Azpilicueta handball but admitted the best team won

‘They have had a lot more chances, a lot more of the ball, and probably deserved the victory,’ he said.

‘They have got a lot of good players. We had to defend really well for 90-plus minutes and we didn’t do that.

‘They are in a lot of form, they’re in a great position. Their shape is good, Kante was fantastic, Hazard is so dangerous, Costa’s a goalscorer.

‘This is a younger side,’ Clement added, comparing the current crop to the teams he worked with alongside Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti. ‘If they can keep them altogether for three or four seasons they will be at a formidable level.’