Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte stands by comments writing off Chelsea's title defence

A frank Antonio Conte offered no apologies for writing off Chelsea's title challenge, saying it would be "bulls**t" to suggest otherwise due to Manchester City's awesome form.

Less than halfway through the Premier League campaign the Italian had declared the Blues' title defence over after Saturday's defeat to West Ham, with unbeaten City opening up a 14-point gap on Chelsea the following day when they won the Manchester derby.

Chelsea reduced the deficit to 11 again with a comfortable 3-1 success over Huddersfield on Tuesday night - Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro all on target - yet Conte hit back at the notion he had invited negativity by insisting his team would not overhaul City.

"When you tell the truth, this is the truth," the Italian said.

"We had 14 points less than Manchester City. In 16 games they won 15 and drew one. In 17 games we lost four. When you have a competitor like City and every game they are winning, it is very difficult to think you can fight for the title because (you can see) 'a negative, a positive'...this is bulls**t, bulls**t.

"We must be realistic and tell the truth. I prefer to tell the truth than a good lie. I am like this and sometimes I can be too honest but I like to speak very honestly with my players and with our fans also.

"But it doesn't mean we don't want to try to catch them but we have to hope they have a big, big slip and for us then to win every game in this league. And it is very difficult in this league. You have to put in 120 per cent otherwise you risk dropping points."

A trip to Yorkshire had proved tricky for both Manchester clubs - Jose Mourinho's United losing 2-1 and City needing an 84th-minute winner after falling behind.

However, Chelsea were able to canter to victory with three goals inside 50 minutes.

"To win this way is very important, it improves our confidence especially after a defeat," Conte added.

"In the last nine games Chelsea won seven, drew one away at Liverpool and lost at West Ham.

"We are on a good path in the league but there is a team in this moment, it's very difficult to stop them. Otherwise we're there with United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal to fight for the title."

Terriers boss David Wagner conceded the two opening goals, both of which arrived before half-time, were the undoing of his men.

"The biggest difference was that Chelsea scored the first goal and then before half-time the second one," he noted.

"Before we conceded the first one it looked a little like when we played against Manchester United or Man City. We kept them away from goal and they didn't have a lot of clear-cut chances before the first goal.

"We gave two easy goals away and this wasn't the case against United or City."


From Belfast Telegraph