Sunderland - Chelsea are six points clear at the top of the
Premier League following their 1-0 victory at Sunderland, but Antonio Conte is
determined to silence premature title talk.
Conte is cautious about the future because although Chelsea
may have a significant advantage over the other title contenders, their
unconvincing performance at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday should encourage
the chasing pack.
They needed a 40th minute goal from Cesc Fabregas to dispose
of Sunderland, who were close to an equaliser in stoppage-time when a shot from
Patrick Van Aanholt was brilliantly saved by Thibaut Courtois.
"I prefer not to look at the top of the table,"
Conte said. "We are doing something important up to now, but the league
doesn't finish today.
"There are still three games before the halfway stage
of the season."
Conte admitted Chelsea weren't at their best but he was
encouraged by the way they kept fighting to secure a 10th successive league
"It's very hard to win any game and we had to fight
hard to win this one," Conte said.
"I think we created chances to score a second goal and
kill the game before Sunderland had a big chance to draw at the end. We needed
a great save from Thibaut to win it.
"I was particularly pleased for Cesc because it was
only the third game he has started. He showed fantastic commitment."
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Fabregas, still adapting to Chelsea's 3-4-3 system, added:
"The performance was really good and I felt we were very, very strong.
"Now we want to keep winning. Hopefully we can continue
like this and send out a strong message.
"People forget that it's only my second time in my
career that I've played this system. My teammates have played it much more, but
I'm getting used to it and feel very comfortable.
"There are a lot of players who I can find with passes
and there's protection behind me. I'm enjoying it a lot."
- Commitment -
Chelsea are closing in on Arsenal's record of 14 successive
victories, achieved over two seasons, as they prepare for a trip to Crystal
Palace on Saturday and home games against Bournemouth and Stoke over Christmas.
They are matches that Chelsea will be expected to win, but
the same was said about their visit to the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland
have scored only ten goals and now won just two of their eight home matches.
"It is not easy to win 10 games in a row in this
league, so I'm pleased for my players. They deserve it because of their
commitment and workrate in training sessions and every game," Conte said.
David Moyes, the Sunderland manager, is facing a fight to
avoid relegation, but he believes the strong showing against Chelsea provides
hope for the future.
"We can come off saying we have had a right go at a top
team," he said.
"We got better in the second half and finished
strongly, but didn't quite do enough to get something out of the game.
"Their keeper made two great saves and I thought
Patrick's shot at the end was in, but it was really good save.
"You need a top keeper and a top striker and we have
that here, but so have Chelsea and they are a real threat
"It's too early to say if they will be champions. We
restricted them to a few scoring opportunities but we couldn't stop them
controlling the game."For
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