Football

Conte wants due credit for in-form Chelsea

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes that Manchester City's run of victories has denied his team the credit they deserve for a recent good spell.

A narrow but deserved 1-0 victory for the English Premier League champions over a defensive Southampton, which came thanks to Marcos Alonso's free-kick on the stroke of half-time, made it eight victories and a draw from their last 10 matches.

However, it still leaves them third, 14 points behind leaders City, who have won a record 16 successive league matches.

"We won a difficult game and I want to remember that in the last 10 games, we won eight, drew one and lost only one," said Conte.

"If someone said to me 'in the next 10 games, are you ready to sign for these results', I'd say 'I'm ready'. Someone is forgetting this run because we see that another team who are winning every game."

The win would have been more convincing with better finishing. Conte wants his team to be more clinical in front of goal after complaining that single-goal victories do not allow him or his team to relax.

Chelsea had 24 shots against Southampton, an average of one every four minutes, but only eight were on target, and only Alonso's sublime free-kick was able to beat Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Forster also pulled off several good saves and Pedro Rodriguez saw a deflected effort hit the base of the post, but Chelsea were guilty of misses, including a close-range effort from Cesc Fabregas that went through Forster's legs but rolled across the goal and past the far post.

"It was only 1-0 (although) we had many chances to score the second goal, so you could be more relaxed," said Conte.

"I am very happy because I saw commitment and we finished with a clean sheet.

"But for sure, this season, we have created many chances, but we must be more accurate with our finishing. When you score more than one goal, you can be more relaxed."

That absence of accuracy put more pressure on the defence and, although they restricted Southampton to a handful of chances, Thibaut Courtois was forced to make two good saves from Southampton substitute Charlie Austin.

"We had to pay attention to Southampton because they're a good team with young players who are very fast," said Conte.

"But I'm happy because my players played with great concentration and we deserved to win." - AFP

Football