Of all the new signings in the Premier League this season, Chelsea’s capture of Antonio Conte might be the best one.
While all the talk is about the (admittedly superb) play of the likes of N’Golo Kante, it’s worth noting that Conte is running away with the title using the majority of a squad which finished 10th last season, 31 points off top spot and just 13 points clear of the relegation zone.
Chelsea won just 12 games all season in their last campaign – but with their 3-1 defeat of Swansea City on Saturday, the Blues notched up their 20th Premier League win of the season so far.
And that win represents a record for Antonio Conte – who now has 20 wins in just his first 26 Premier League games. No other manager has taken to the English game so well.
In all, the Blues have dropped just 15 points this season, losing three times and drawing three times in the league.
And for a while it looked like lose number four could be on the cards on Sunday when Swansea tied things up on the stroke of half-time. But the champions-elect scored 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.
‘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.’
‘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.’