herald

Monday 24 July 2017

Conte: Title matters not record

Antonio Conte. Photo: Getty Images
Antonio Conte. Photo: Getty Images

Antonio Conte wants his Chelsea side to build on their club record 12 straight wins by marching on to the Premier League title.

Should the Blues, who beat Bournemouth 3-0 on Boxing Day, defeat Stoke and Tottenham in their next two games, they will equal Arsenal's Premier League record of 14 successive wins.

But statistical landmarks matter little to former Juventus and Italy boss Conte, who wants his side to reclaim the Premier League trophy they won in May 2015 after relinquishing it so poorly last season.

"I prefer to win the title than the record," Conte (pictured), who was appointed in the summer, said.

"Records are important, but not all. It's important to write history only when you win.

"To be in the history of the club and to win 12 games in a row is fantastic. But with the players we want to continue."

Bournemouth switched to three at the back to try to play Chelsea at their own game and it worked for the first period until Pedro fired the hosts in front.

The excellent Eden Hazard added a second from the penalty spot and a late Pedro strike deflected in off Steve Cook.

Conte views teams changing tactics as a mark of respect and says it happened at Juve, who won 33 of 38 games under him in 2013-14.

He added: "After 12 wins in a row, every team must play against Chelsea try also to change their formation. It happened also in Italy when I was manager of Juventus.

"We must be prepared for the formation of our opponent (to change). I think this means great respect for us."

Chelsea's win came despite the absence of striker Diego Costa and midfielder N'Golo Kante, both suspended for accumulating five yellow cards.

Pedro now has five cautions and will miss Saturday's New Year's Eve clash with Stoke, meaning Costa is almost certain to return.

Conte added: "I received a great answer of all the group. It's fantastic to know you can count on all players. They deserved this victory in this way."

Bournemouth next play at struggling Swansea on New Year's Eve.

Cook warns the game is crucial. Win and Bournemouth can look up, but anything less and the Cherries could be dragged into the relegation fight.

"It's pivotal," Cook said on afcb.co.uk.

"It's a huge game for us. It can define our season and I'd go as far as to say it's a must-win game for us.

"These are the games we've faltered on in previous games and we need to get that right.

"We need to go there and be positive; take the game to them and keep them in the bottom three, pushing ourselves back up."

ends

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