Football

Chelsea manager Conte: Chelsea still have plenty to achieve

Manager Conte says Blues are motivated to fight till the end and for top-four spot

Manager Antonio Conte insists the battle for a top-four finish is providing Chelsea with all the motivation they need, even if English Premier League leaders Manchester City are out of reach.

Conte's side recovered from the disappointment of a pre-Christmas draw at Everton by beating Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 on Tuesday to move within a point of second-placed Manchester United.

With City on a record-breaking run of victories, Blues boss Conte admits there appears to be little chance of closing the gap. But the Italian insisted last season's champions are still motivated.

"In this league, there is a great motivation for all. To try to stay (in a top-four spot) and to fight until the end," he said.

"I don't know if it will win the title. It depends on City. They are doing something extraordinary to win every game, with only one draw - they are having a fantastic run.

"Apart from them, Chelsea, United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool would be staying there to fight. We fight for a place in the Champions League next season.

"There are four places for six top teams. Last season, United and Arsenal finished fifth and sixth, no?

"There is this great motivation for me, for the players and we want to try and improve.

"Our start wasn't easy this season, for many reasons, but we want to work and improve. There are many competitions.

"It's important to face every competition and be very proud to play every game."

Against Brighton, Alvaro Morata headed the London club ahead after half-time and Marcos Alonso added the second on the hour at Stamford Bridge.

"Today, it was positive for Alvaro to score," said Conte.

"He's our No. 9. Against Everton, he didn't play.

ADMIRATION FOR VIDAL

"Also Alonso, to score five goals up to now, for a wing-back, is a great achievement. But it's important to continue. Not to stop scoring. We need this alternative to our strikers."

Conte wants to strengthen his squad in January and expressed his admiration for Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal after being questioned about reports linking the Chile midfielder with a move to Chelsea.

"I must be honest, it's not right to talk about a player of another team," he said.

"Especially if you try to link this player with us. Arturo is a fantastic player, I have great respect for him and we spent many years at Juventus together. I would always want him with me."

Brighton manager Chris Hughton also responded to reports claiming Albion have agreed a fee for Celtic striker Moussa Dembele.

"I've heard reports. As manager of this football club, I'm quite sure I would know. There has been no contact between the two clubs," he said.

Brighton are in 12th place in the EPL standings and Hughton added: "I want them to feel proud of where we are and what we've achieved, but frustrated because we could have done better.

"Would we have been happy at the start of the season to be in the position we are in now? The answer would be yes. But we could have done better.

"If anything, in the second half of the season, it will get harder." - AFP

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