Sunday, November 19, 2017

Antonio Conte hopes Chelsea can replicate last season’s 13-game winning streak in the Premier League, but acknowledges even that may be not enough to overhaul Manchester City.

Despite dispatching West Brom 4-0 at The Hawthorns to take their sequence of victories to four, Conte’s reigning champions still trail unbeaten leaders City by nine points.

At this stage last term Conte’s side were in the midst of a Premier League record-equalling 13 successive wins in a single season to underpin their title triumph, and the Italian feels belief has been enhanced on the back of recent results.

However, he accepts that even another lengthy winning streak will not lift them to the division’s summit if City maintain their current form.

Asked whether he felt his team was capable of stringing together another long run of wins, Conte replied: “I hope so because last season we won 13 games in a row and in this league it’s not simple to have this type of run.

“In every game it’s very difficult, every game you have to play with great focus and concentration otherwise you risk dropping points.

“Four wins in a row is important for our confidence. We started the season with many problems but we are trying slowly to find the right solution. I’m very happy, especially for the commitment of my players.

“In this case it doesn’t depend on us because Manchester City are playing very well and they’re having fantastic results. Now it’s very difficult to think that someone can stop them. They are having a fantastic run.”

West Brom, who have now not won in 11 games, were swatted aside by the Blues thanks to three first-half goals from Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso.

Chelsea took their foot off the gas after the break, though Hazard did grab another, and that allowed Conte to withdraw Cesc Fabregas, Hazard and N’Golo Kante with Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Qarabag in mind.

“To win in this way is very important for our confidence, especially now we are going to play an important game on Wednesday,” Conte added.

“I think this will be the most important game of the season because we have the possibility, with a win, to go through to the next round in the Champions League, so to start our path in this way was very positive.”

Saturday’s clash was arguably the most important fixture of West Brom’s season given the mounting pressure on boss Tony Pulis and, in front of owner Guochuan Lai, they suffered the joint-heaviest defeat of the Welshman’s near three-year reign.

Pulis spoke to chairman John Williams in the dressing room after the thrashing, though would not discuss what was said, but travelled back home with no further conversations planned with the Baggies hierarchy.

Yet the 59-year-old claimed the scrutiny on his position was not weighing him down.

“I’ve got different things in my mind,” he said.

“The football club is there, but I’ve got a family as well, I do a lot of work for certain charities.

“I’ve been in the game and life long enough to understand you can’t affect what someone else is going to do. If I’m losing games, obviously that puts more pressure on you, but it’s up to them (the board).”

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