Belfast Telegraph

Players deserve all the credit for Premier League joy, says Antonio

By Nick Mashiter

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte hailed his players after they wrapped up the Premier League title with a 1-0 win at West Brom.

Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to hit the winner in the 82nd minute and give the Italian the championship at the first time of asking.

Conte said: "I think this achievement is a great achievement for the players, for my players.

"And I have to say thanks for their commitment, for their work-rate. This season they showed me great attitude, great patience, great will, great desire to try to do something great in this season.

"And now after this win we must be happy. We must be pleased for all this season."

Conte felt Eden Hazard and Pedro looked lethargic and wanted to inject some more life into his attack in the second half and felt vindicated with Batshuayi's winner.

He said: "I think during the game you can allow to do this change (taking Hazard and Pedro off). This moment of the game I think Hazard was a bit tired and also Pedro.

"And I wanted to give more energy with Michy and Willian. I think that Michy paid me a lot with this change but it's great for me, this is my first season. It wasn't easy for me to arrive in England to try a different habit, a different language and also a lot of players after a bad season.

"I think this win is for the players. They deserve this with great attitude, great commitment in all the season."

Conte also believes quickly adapting his team's style of play early in the season went a long way to clinching the title.

He added: "I think this decision to change our system (to three at the back) won this league because in the first part of the season we didn't have the right balance. And when I saw after two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal... bad defeats, not simple defeats, I knew I needed to change and find a new situation for my team.

"In my mind there was this option to change and play with a 3-4-3 because I know the characteristic of Willian and Pedro - number 10. To play with only one forward and two number 10s made us more solid."

Defender David Luiz realised a dream with Chelsea's success, having joined the club for a second time last summer.

Luiz said: "I'm very happy. This is my first Premier League title. When I decided to come back here it was because of this - I dreamed of one day winning the Premier League so I'm very happy because my dream came true.

"I am so happy - we worked hard every day to have these kinds of moments."

The Brazilian paid tribute to his manager and added: "He (Conte) likes to work - this is his secret. He works with passion every day.

"I am so happy for him because it's never easy to come here in the first year and win the title. He deserves it because he works hard every day."

Skipper Gary Cahill believes Chelsea were full value for their title glory and added: "These are the opportunities you want to grasp with both hands.

"You have to cherish these moments. We've worked so hard all season to be where we are.

"Consistently I think we've been the best team in the league. I think we've deserved it, we've worked hard. There's no better feeling than this in football."

Belfast Telegraph

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