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Monday 27 March 2017

Conte won't waste time looking back

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte

Confident Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte will not spend any time looking over his shoulder as the rest of the Premier League try to reel in his runaway leaders.

A 1-1 draw at Liverpool, coupled with a defeat for Arsenal and a draw for Tottenham, meant the Stamford Bridge side extended their advantage to nine points.

Having negotiated a testing night at Anfield on Tuesday, next up is a home clash against the Gunners on Saturday, who were 3-0 winners at the Emirates Stadium back in September.

A victory for Chelsea at the weekend would leave Arsenal 12 points adrift and effectively out of the title race but Conte is not getting too concerned with that just yet.

"The best thing is to see ourselves, not the others," he said.

"We stay top of the table and that is a great achievement but it is important to focus on ourselves.

"There are 15 games remaining and 45 points. It's important to draw against a really good team (Liverpool) and now we must focus on playing Arsenal.

"We play another great team because Arsenal is a great team who can fight for the title.

"Don't forget we lost 3-0 away and I think this could be a good chance for us to show that the second part of the season we are a totally different team if you compare us to the previous game.

"It is a good chance for us. We play at home, which is very important, but it will be a really tough game."

Although the title appears Chelsea's to lose, Conte's first aim is to ensure the club qualifies for the Champions League after missing out last season.

"For a club like Chelsea it is very important to come back in this competition," he added.

Meanwhile, Branislav Ivanovic has joined Zenit St Petersburg on a two-and-a-half-year deal. The 32-year-old defender made 376 appearances for Chelsea won the Premier League title twice, the FA Cup three times, and the Europa League with the Blues.

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