Making Champions League is Chelsea's focus, says Conte

Italian seeking immediate response and not relying on new recruits in transfer window

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is less than impressed during the 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Saturday at the London Stadium. Photograph: Reuters

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is less than impressed during the 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Saturday at the London Stadium. Photograph: Reuters

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Unhappy Antonio Conte admits Chelsea are battling to secure their Champions League future and warned of a “bad surprise” if his side do not raise their game.

A 1-0 loss at West Ham last Saturday and Manchester City’s win in the Manchester derby on Sunday meant Chelsea trail Pep Guardiola’s leaders by 14 points.

After a fourth loss in 16 games, Conte thinks a title challenge is now all-but over and spoke of a revised target ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League clash at Huddersfield.

“I’m not happy because the last game we lost against West Ham; I like to win. When we lose I’m not happy,” said Conte.

“In 16 games we lost four games. My experience tells (me) it’s impossible to win the title. Now we must be focused in the league to go game by game, to do our best. This league is not simple. We have to fight to find a place in the Champions League.

“(But) we must be very realistic to understand that this league is very dangerous. We have to go game by game, play every game with 120 per cent of our strength, otherwise we risk to have a bad surprise at the end of the season.”

Conte’s focus is on the immediate future and not the Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona.

He has continually bemoaned a lack of transfer activity last summer, when he watched rivals City and Manchester United strengthen their squads.

But the Italian is seeking an immediate response and is not relying on new recruits in January’s winter transfer window to improve Chelsea’s fortunes.

“It’s important to find a solution in this moment and not to look too far (ahead),” he added. There are many games (before the transfer window opens). We have to find a solution early.”

Midfielder Danny Drinkwater missed the West Ham loss through illness, while defender David Luiz is being monitored over his knee injury.

Conte is likely to make changes for the trip to Huddersfield. Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko was substituted at half-time at the London Stadium and striker Alvaro Morata was replaced 10 minutes into the second half. Both could be in need of a rest.

And Conte, who repeated his Chelsea side are rebuilding after the departures of the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard in recent seasons, says it is important the summer arrivals are given time to bed in.

“New players need a bit of time to adapt themselves to our idea of football, to adapt themselves in this league. This is not simple. The most important thing is to have the will to work and to try to improve every day.”

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