Antonio Conte credits ‘blind faith’ as key to Chelsea’s success

Chelsea sit nine points clear having won 16 of their 18 league games since losing to Arsenal

Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte during his teams match against Arsenal on Saturday. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte during his teams match against Arsenal on Saturday. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

 

Antonio Conte believes “blind faith” in his methods has played a key role in Chelsea’s transformation from last season’s strugglers to this season’s champions-elect, or as the Italian puts it, from “an ugly duckling into a swan”.

Chelsea sit nine points clear at the top of the table having won 16 of their 18 Premier League matches since losing 3-0 to Arsenal in September, after which the manager changed his team’s formation to a 3-4-3. They, and he, have not looked back since.

“If you compare this Chelsea with the team from last season [when they finished 10th having won the title in the previous campaign] then it’s normal that you’d end up this way: you can’t turn an ugly duckling into a swan in an instant,” said Conte, who took over at Stamford Bridge in July having led Italy to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. “I’m not a coach who compromises and with my blind faith in the work we’re doing, and in my ideas, I’ve been able to forge straight ahead without worrying about anyone else.”

Following Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea move on to what appears to be a hugely favourable run of league fixtures: against Burnley, Swansea City, West Ham United, Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace, prior to a home meeting with Manchester City.

Will to win

It is conceivable Chelsea could have their second title in three seasons all but wrapped up by the time they take on Pep Guardiola’s men on April 5th, but Conte is refusing to look that far ahead. “My experiences as a player taught me that you will win a lot and lose a lot too and that instilled in me a fierce will to win,” he said. “Those who are out in front must not falter. It sends a message to those who are following, an increasingly loud message, that we must make the most of this period.”

Speaking about N’Golo Kanté, who has been outstanding for Chelsea following his arrival from champions Leicester City in July, Conte added: “He manages to cover a lot of the pitch, he’s always ready and willing, and he’s just a great player and a great signing for us. He has to improve his build-up play, but he’s that kind of midfielder, one who recovers the ball then makes a sideways pass. He needs to learn how to play the ball forward to play in our strikers and our wingers.” Guardian service

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