Chelsea boss Antonio Conte might be the only one who believes the Premier League title race is still wide open after he saw his side end Arsenal’s title dreams with a comprehensive 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Conte contemplated the idea of the race being over but refused to allow himself to think in such a way:
“No,” the Italian said, “because [there are] 14 games still to play before the end of the season. There are 42 points to take.
“For sure, today it was important to win. When you have this type of situation you must exploit but it’s not easy because Arsenal also showed us today to be a great team with great players.”
It has been a great way for Conte and his side as they got a point at Anfield in midweek, essentially ending Liverpool’s title hopes and then on Saturday beating Arsenal.
With the win, Chelsea extended their lead over the Gunners to 12 points, and Arsene Wenger’s side now has to readjust its focus on staying in the top four, instead of a late season sun for the title.
Arsenal dominated the earlier fixture this season, winning 3-0 but since then Conte has shown why he is considered as one of the best managers in the world as he has transformed his side winning 16 of 18 Premier League games since losing to Liverpool and Arsenal in September.
After the two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, I remember during the press conference I tell you that we faced two great teams; now, we are not that team” said Conte.
“I remember also my word. I told you we must show on the pitch to be a great team, not only because you are Chelsea. I think we are showing this. I’m pleased because after that situation the spirit was totally changed, the will to fight together, to be a team; the will to try something in this season.”
Conte lauded a fine team performance in an 11th straight home win, but had special praise for Hazard’s all-round game after his goal.
The Belgium playmaker picked the ball up in the centre circle, evaded Laurent Koscielny and brushed off Francis Coquelin before fooling Koscielny, again, and drilling in past Cech.
“Yes, he scored a great goal, but Eden I think today showed a great form, great shape,” Conte said.
“We all know his talent, his strength. He’s a really, really good, talented player.
“Today I’m pleased for his work, above all without the ball, defensively.
“He played with great attention, with great concentration. When we are able to work together in this way, it’s simple to try to win for us.”