Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte urges Chelsea to ignore table after they make it a perfect 10

Antonio Conte has told his players to ignore the Premier League table after seeing Chelsea go six points clear at the top with victory at Sunderland.

Cesc Fabregas' first league goal of the season secured a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, the Blues' 10th in succession, and opened up the gap above Liverpool and Arsenal.

However, Conte is refusing even to contemplate what might lie ahead.

He said: "I prefer not to look at the table, I prefer this for me, for my players because we are doing something important until now, but the league didn't finish today.

"We are on top of the table, but there are still three games to end the first part of the season and then 19 games. This league is very tough and I think until the end, it will be a big battle between six teams."

Fabregas' 40th-minute strike ultimately settled the game, although Sunderland would have ended the Blues' winning league run had Thibaut Courtois not produced a superb save to deny Patrick van Aanholt an injury-time equaliser.

Conte said: "I am pleased, for sure, because it's fantastic to win 10 games in a row in this league because this league is very tough. It's very tough in every game, you have to fight until the end to take three points.

"Today is an example. We had to fight a lot to win this game. We created many chances to score the second goal and to kill the game. Instead, we didn't kill it and at the end, Sunderland had a good chance to draw and only a great save by Thibaut allowed us to win."

It was just Fabregas' third league start of the campaign, and Conte was delighted with the Spaniard's contribution.

He said: "I am very happy for him because Cesc is a great example for the other players."

Sunderland boss David Moyes admitted he thought Van Aanholt had snatched a point at the death, and was able to take positives from a spirited display despite the absence of Victor Anichebe and Steven Pienaar through injury.

He said: "I thought the last one was in and I thought he [referee Neil Swarbrick] was probably going to blow for time as well. I thought, 'Ideal because they won't have any more time after that'.

"But it was a really good save. You need a top goalkeeper - we have got a top goalkeeper here; you need a top striker - we have got a top striker here as well. But Chelsea have got them as well and it makes them a real threat.

"Coming off the pitch, we could come off saying we had a right go to try to have a go at a top team. The goalkeeper made two great saves. Obviously the second one will get all the plaudits because of the type it was, but I thought we got better in the second half and we finished the game quite strongly.

"But we just didn't have enough to get something out of the game."

The game came a day after chief executive Martin Bain revealed Moyes would have very limited funds with which to strengthen his squad next month.

The manager said: "My reaction to it is, I came with two objectives: the first one was to stay in the Premier League, the second one to build the club. I don't see it's changed anything."

Asked if that was frustrating, Moyes added: "Yes, because I knew I had a short summer and I wasn't going to do much business in the summer, it was going to be really difficult. But I did expect to be able to do some business in January."

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