Football: Antonio Conte urges Chelsea to wrap up EPL title quickly

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte gesturing during a press conference.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte gesturing during a press conference. PHOTO: EPA

Blues exhorted to wrap up EPL title with victory over West Brom as Pulis salutes dominant team

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wants his players to wrap up the Premier League title at the first time of asking, even if it means their coronation will take place away from Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea head to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion today, knowing victory will deliver the championship in Conte's first season in charge.

"Honestly, I prefer to try to win as soon as possible," the Italian told a press conference yesterday.

"It's not important where we win - it's important to win and then you have the time to celebrate wherever you want.

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"We must go game by game. Tomorrow's game is the most important one for us. It is a final and we are always thinking in this way for a long time.

"We must continue to think in this way and to try to take three points."

TAKING THE THREE POINTS

It's not important where we win - it's important to win and then you have the time to celebrate wherever you want.

ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea manager, on the team's priority.

Chelsea's final two league games are at home against Watford and already-relegated Sunderland.

Tottenham Hotspur's defeat at West Ham United last week, coupled with Chelsea's defeat of Middlesbrough on Monday, significantly eased the pressure during the run-in.

And Blues defender Gary Cahill admitted there was a party atmosphere at the club this week.

"We're in a very good position now," the England international told the club website. "If anything, we should be enjoying it. After the Tottenham result, naturally spirits were high in training and everybody was buzzing.

PUTTING IT IN CONTEXT

After the Tottenham result, naturally spirits were high in training and everybody was buzzing.

GARY CAHILL, Chelsea defender, revealing how his team-mates reacted to Spurs' crucial loss to West Ham.

"Everyone went out and enjoyed themselves and there was a little bit of pressure off, although that can sometimes be bad when you relax and don't do the right things."

Cahill, however, insisted that there was no complacency.

"It's going to be a tough game at West Brom, it always is. It's never comfortable and we need to be aware of that, but we're looking forward to getting the job done."

West Brom have beaten Chelsea in three of their last five league meetings at The Hawthorns.

Tony Pulis' men have also been boosted by a 2-2 draw at Burnley on Saturday which ended their four-match losing run and saw Salomon Rondon end his 19-game goal drought.

While Pulis will be hoping to prolong Chelsea's wait for a second title in three years, he admitted that today's visitors deserve to be champions.

"Firstly you have to give Chelsea great credit," said the West Brom manager. "They deserve to be where they are and have been (the) most consistent team.

"We will give it our best tomorrow. We're looking forward to it. We owe it to our supporters."

The last five managers to win the Premier League - Claudio Ranieri (Leicester), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City), Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) and Roberto Mancini (City) - have only lasted at their clubs for one more season at the longest.

Conte's combination of leadership skills and tactical intelligence has seen him heavily linked to the vacancy at Inter Milan. But the former Juventus and Italy manager confirmed his desire to stay at Stamford Bridge.

"I have a contract with Chelsea for two (more) years," said the 47-year-old. "It's logical when you start the work in a new club and the will is to continue to work to try to improve in many years.

"For sure, this is my will but now the most important thing is to reach our target.

"To arrive in this moment, in this position and to have this great opportunity, we worked very hard for the whole season."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2017, with the headline 'Conte urges Swift win'. Print Edition | Subscribe