Conference Call: Intensity, concentration and desire

Antonio Conte felt our 2-1 win over Crystal Palace was fully deserved following a good performance from his side at Stamford Bridge.

The victory, secured courtesy of a Willian strike and a Martin Kelly own goal, ensured we closed the gap on Liverpool, who were beaten at Manchester United earlier in the day, to four points.

Conte said the margin of victory could - and should - have been more significant.

‘This win was very important, also because if we want to fight for a place in the Champions League it’s important not to drop points,’ said the Italian. ‘We played really well, especially in the first half. We dominated a large part of the game and created a lot of chances to score. It’s a pity at the end we conceded a goal and played three minutes with a bit of nervousness because after you dominate you hope to be more relaxed, but at the same time the players managed those last few minutes in the best way.

‘When you are managing the game and you have it in your hand, sometimes you can think it’s easier but today we played a good game with great intensity, concentration and a desire to win.’

Willian, who was superb, opened the scoring with his fifth goal in as many games...

‘You can see that if a player stays in great form I’m the first to pick him in the starting 11. Willian is playing in a fantastic way, and I want to underline not only with the ball but also without the ball. He’s working very hard, helping the team and showing great maturity at this point of his career.
‘In my heart I hope to see him continue at this level in his performances. For us it’s very important to have balance in our team during a game because when you lose that anything can happen.’

He also praised the performances of Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud...
‘We must be pleased for Olivier’s commitment. He hit the post and in the first half a defender cleared a chance [off the line], he was a bit unlucky.  
‘Eden played a good game and he had chances to score but we didn’t take a lot of the chances we created. The commitment of all my players was good so we must be very happy.’

Conte explained why Toni Rudiger wasn’t involved today...

‘On Wednesday he had a little injury but there is the probability to recover to be in contention for the Barcelona game. It’s muscular fatigue, not a sprain. There is the first grade and second grade, his is zero.’

The Blues boss also looked ahead to Wednesday’s Champions League game against Barcelona...

‘We have to show great resilience. The game will be totally different, we are playing one of the best teams in the world. We must pay great attention and have the same focus as in the first leg because we played a really great game. It was almost the perfect game if we didn’t concede.
‘It won’t be easy, we must know this, but we must have the right solution to play this game. The best way sometimes is to speak to the players and find the right plan together.’