Sunday 24 March 2019

Conte: City can dominate for years

Chelsea boss says Pep's Citizens could rule England and Europe

GUARD: Chelsea
boss Antonio Conte
has surrendered
the Premier League
title to Manchester
City manager Pep
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has surrendered the Premier League title to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea that Manchester City's Premier League title victory can lead to them dominating English football in the coming years.

City were crowned champions on Sunday when Manchester United lost to West Brom, and with five games remaining they can still break Chelsea's record points tally of 95.

Conte has repeatedly criticised his club's hierarchy this season for what he considers a lack of investment which has undermined their title defence.

The Italian cited City's ambition and willingness to continue spending and backing their manager Pep Guardiola as reasons why they will continue to excel.

The Chelsea manager, who is not expected to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the season, said: "Manchester City is one club that can continue to dominate, to win. Not only in England but also to fight for the Champions League.

"They have the possibility to do this; it is a very strong club, they have an important squad with great players, and are a club that want to invest and improve. There are a lot of things that are right. They have dominated this season and it's right to compliment them on winning this league; this league is not simple to win.

"The way they did it was incredible. They did a great job on and off the pitch, they were very well prepared for the season. I like the way they improved the team and the squad."

Chelsea, whose wing-back Marcos Alonso could yet be suspended following a charge of violent conduct for his tackle on Shane Long during Saturday's victory at Southampton, visit Burnley this evening.

Their hopes of an unlikely top-four finish have been strengthened by Tottenham dropping five points in their past two games, meaning Conte's team could cut the deficit to five points.

"We have to try until the end to reach this target," said the Chelsea manager.

"If we want to be realistic, with five games to go it is not simple to reduce the gap, but we must have the will to fight. We must have the desire to try and take this target and why not?

"We have an important game against a really strong team. It won't be easy to get three points, but we have to try in every game to do our best and try to avoid what happened against Southampton in the first 60 minutes, because we played badly not only in a tactical and technical aspect, but also in spirit.

"We have to avoid this if we want to keep the hope to finish in the top four."

Meanwhile, Burnley have Arsenal in their sights as they attempt to take another remarkable step up the Premier League ladder.

A sixth win in succession against Chelsea would see them overtake Arsene Wenger's side, albeit having played a game more, and with a match at the Emirates still to come.

Manager Sean Dyche said: "To be seventh is fantastic. If we can attempt to chase down Arsenal - I don't think that would have been words I'd have been using at the beginning of the season - we will do."

Ahead of a trip to relegation-threatened Stoke on Sunday, Dyche welcomes Chelsea to Turf Moor. The tone for the Clarets' stunning campaign was set on the opening day when they defeated the reigning champions 3-2 at Stamford Bridge, having led 3-0 at half-time, with one of those goals coming from Ireland full-back Stephen Ward (left).

Recalling his mid-match team talk, Dyche said: "It was definitely one I hadn't planned on. We had a little meeting with the staff and they said: 'What do you think?' And I said: 'I don't know. What do you want me to tell them? They're 3-0 up at Chelsea.'

"Then we just waffled on and kept our fingers crossed and we managed to get that one over the line."

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