Chelsea Retaining Title ‘Impossible’ After West Ham Defeat – Conte
Antonio Conte conceded that Chelsea are not in the title race after suffering their fourth Premier League defeat of the season at West Ham United.
Marko Arnautovic’s early goal was enough to give West Ham their first Premier League win since September against a lacklustre Chelsea, who directed just two of their 19 shots on target and struggled to mount any sustained pressure on the home defence.
After the match a visibly downbeat Conte conceded that his team had wasted a valuable chance to make up ground on the Manchester clubs, who will face each other at Old Trafford on Sunday, and said it would be “strange” to include Chelsea in any title discussion after losses to two of the division’s bottom three.
“To talk about the title race after a defeat I think is a bit strange,” he said. “Especially as this is the fourth defeat this season in 16 games. When you have this task it is impossible to think that you are in the title race. It is impossible.
“My experience is this, that if you want to stay in the race for the title, in the first part of the season you can lose once, twice [and no more].
“After 16 games if you lose four games it means you never started this race. We started with a defeat in our home game against Burnley. We lost another game. We have a lot of reasons to justify the defeat against Man City because we played after two days.
“But then you lose against Crystal Palace at the bottom and now to lose again against West Ham who at this moment are in a bad position in the table, you can’t lose points in these games.
“It means you are not in the title race. You have to change, to do our best in this season. I said before this season would be very, very tough, very difficult and this is the truth.”
Conte attributed Chelsea’s slow start at the London Stadium to fatigue as a frantic December fixture list takes it toll.
“Today many players were tired,” he said. “It is normal when you play every three days.
“We started our preseason with the same players, a lot are playing almost always, and for sure you have to pay something for this.
“We started badly and conceded this goal and it was difficult to come back. I saw the same game [with West Ham] against Manchester City, where Manchester City attacked for the whole game against the whole team behind the ball.
“But City found a way to score. Instead we created the chances but didn’t take them. Now we are talking about a defeat.
“Our ideas were not so clear and I think above all in the last pass, the final pass we made a lot of mistakes. We created chances to score but we didn’t take them. When you shoot for 19 times in a game it means you attacked, but we can do better.”
Source: ESPN FC