LONDON: Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes that Manchester City’s run of victories has denied his team the credit they deserve for their own recent good spell.
A narrow but deserved 1-0 victory for the Premier League champions over a defensive Southampton, which came thanks to Marcos Alonso’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time, made it eight victories and a draw from their last ten matches.
However, it still leaves them third, 14 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who have won a record 16 successive league matches.
“We won a difficult game and I want to remember that in the last ten games we won eight, drew one and lost only one,” said Conte.
“If someone said to me ‘in the next ten games are you ready to sign for these results’, I’d say ‘I’m ready!’
“Someone is forgetting this run because we see that there is another team that is winning every game.”
The win would have been more convincing with better finishing.
Conte wants his team to be more clinical in front of goal after complaining that single-goal victories do not allow him, his team or the Chelsea fans to relax.
Chelsea had 24 shots against Southampton, an average of one every four minutes, but only eight were on target, and only Alonso’s sublime free-kick was able to beat Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Forster also pulled off several good saves and Pedro saw a deflected effort hit the base of the post, but Chelsea were guilty of misses, including a close-range effort from Cesc Fabregas that went through Forster’s legs but rolled across the goal and past the far post.
“It was only 1-0 (although) we had many chances to score the second goal so you could be more relaxed,” said Conte.
“I am very happy because I saw commitment and we finished with a clean sheet.
“But for sure this season I think that we have created many chances but we must be more accurate with our finishing.
“Because when you score more than one goal you can be more relaxed.”
That absence of accuracy put more pressure on the defence and although they restricted Southampton to a handful of chances, Thibaut Courtois was forced to make two good saves from Southampton substitute Charlie Austin.
“We had to pay attention to Southampton because they’re a good team with young players who are very fast,” said Conte.
“But I’m happy because my players played the game with great concentration and we deserved to win.”