Football

Hasselbaink: Why Conte will lead Blues to title

Ex-Chelsea star Hasselbaink says new Blues boss 'breathes respect, determination and commitment'

CHELSEA ARSENAL

Straight-talking Antonio Conte has earned the utmost respect from his players at Stamford Bridge and has built a side that seems impervious to pressure, said former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

The Premier League leaders host title rivals Arsenal tonight, knowing that victory over their London rivals in the early kickoff would send them 12 points clear at the top.

Hasselbaink, who played for the club from 2000-2004, has seen Conte's impact first-hand and believes that the Italian is well on his way to securing the English Premier League trophy.

"I went to see him the other day at the training ground," Hasselbaink told Reuters in an interview.

"Conte is someone with a lot of experience, a lot of success and you can see he gets a lot of respect from his players.

"Conte breathes respect, determination and commitment."

Hasselbaink, 44, who left his post as Queens Park Rangers manager in November, said Conte's straightforward approach on the training ground left his players in no doubt about their duties on the field.

CLEAR

"Yes, he's very straight and the training sessions are simple but clear," said Hasselbaink.

"Everybody knows what to do and how to do it. I think everybody has their own ways, but (Conte) has obviously got a lot of things right, so you look at that and you see how you can use that in your own style."

Hasselbaink admires Chelsea's resilience under pressure.

"I've been impressed with how compact they are, how much they are together, and the understanding between the players is very good," he said.

"But, most importantly, it's how comfortable they are without the ball. You have a lot of teams who panic, but Chelsea are still in control when they don't have the ball.

"That, for me, is something very important as a manager."

Conte would dearly love to see off Arsenal after the north London side's 3-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium in their previous meeting this season.

Said Conte: "This could be a good chance for us to show that in the second part of the season, we are a totally different team compared to the previous game.

"It is a good chance for us. We play at home, which is very important, but it will be a really tough game."

Wenger is expected to sit in a designated location in Stamford Bridge's East Stand tonight as he starts a four-match touchline ban.

He confirmed that Aaron Ramsey faces three weeks on the sidelines after picking up a calf injury in the 2-1 home defeat by Watford on Tuesday.

The Frenchman does not believe defeat tonight will rule his side out of the title race.

"I believe what's most important is that we turn up with a positive performance," he said.

"We have shown in the first game that we can beat Chelsea, so let's turn up with the same quality and show a straight response." - WIRE SERVICES

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