Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea won't ease up in title race, says Antonio Conte

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will not allow his players to rest on their laurels despite rattling off three wins in a "crucial" week.

The 3-0 win at Everton, secured by goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill and Willian, followed on from an FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham and a midweek league success at Southampton.

With Spurs beating Arsenal in the north London derby, Chelsea's advantage at the top is still four points.

Nevertheless Conte will not allow his team to take their foot off the gas just yet.

"I think we finished a crucial week very well. We all know there is this part of the season that is more important," he said.

"Now it is important for us to prepare the right way the next game. If we don't win against Middlesbrough (next Monday) then you lose this great win.

"It is a great win but at this part of the season every win is a great win for us."

The way Conte and his players celebrated with the visiting fans at the final whistle suggested they felt it was a significant victory, but the Blues boss denied as much.

"We must celebrate in the right way, with my players, with the staff, with our fans," he added.

"We have to have great enthusiasm and great patience because I think we are having a great season, but to become a fantastic season we must win."

Defeat was Everton's first in the league at home since December and only their second in 12 months, but there was no doubt they were second-best and manager Ronald Koeman admitted as much.

Although they held the Premier League leaders for an hour, there was no real suggestion the result would be anything other than it turned out to be.

"Maybe in the last 30 minutes, yes," said Koeman when asked whether their opponents had showed all the qualities of champions.

"We started well and were a bit unlucky when we hit the post (through Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the opening 70 seconds).

"I think we did some mistakes in our ball possession and that makes them really dangerous in the first half, but I think we did a good job until the 1-0. After that it makes it more difficult to create really open chances and if they get a little bit more space they are a team who will kill the game.

"The third goal was that high quality offensive football but maybe we didn't deserve this defeat with three goals difference."

Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin missed the match with a thigh problem and is expected to be out for at least a week.

"It is not really bad. It is not the end of the season for Morgan. Maybe next week, maybe not, but it will not take more than 10 days," said Koeman.

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