Killer instinct must fuel Chelsea: Conte

Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi loses his footing but scores his second goal in the tense 3-2 victory over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday to take the Blues into the third round of the League Cup.
Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi loses his footing but scores his second goal in the tense 3-2 victory over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday to take the Blues into the third round of the League Cup. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tense finish against spirited Bristol Rovers a catalyst for furious response from manager

LONDON • Chelsea must develop a ruthless mentality to kill games and not invite pressure from their opposition, manager Antonio Conte has said after his side endured a tense finish in their 3-2 League Cup win against third-tier Bristol Rovers.

Two goals from Michy Batshuayi handed Chelsea a 3-1 lead at the interval but Ellis Harrison's penalty early in the second half for Rovers ensured a nerve-wracking finish to the second-round game for the Premier League side.

Victor Moses of Chelsea and Bristol Rovers' Peter Hartley were the other scorers on the night.

"We must understand that when you have the people to kill the game, you must," Conte told the British media. "When you leave it open, a situation like tonight can happen and until the game has finished, you are afraid (of a draw)."

England manager Sam Allardyce recently said he would be open to holding talks with Chelsea captain John Terry over a possible return to international football, and Conte said it would not be right for him to interfere in the situation.

"I'm a former international team coach so I know this situation and prefer it to be solved between Sam Allardyce and John Terry," the former Italy manager added.

"John has a great attitude during training and is working very hard. I'm very happy with his commitment. But for the international team, it is important for it to be solved between Sam Allardyce and himself."

PRIME STRATEGY

We must understand that when you have the people to kill the game, you must.

ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea manager, on the need to finish off opponents.

Chelsea's next game is at home in the Premier League against Burnley, who beat Liverpool 2-0 last Saturday.

The Reds had a far better result in the League Cup second round with a 5-0 thrashing of Burton Albion.

The instant response that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had been looking for after the Burnley setback was delivered as Liverpool recorded their biggest victory since February.

Having lost the League Cup final to Manchester City in the same month, Klopp's side demonstrated that their intention to go just as far in the competition, and ideally go one better, is strong.

Burton were obliging opponents, playing into Liverpool's hands by trying to play them at their own game but Nigel Clough, their manager, will rightly stick to his belief that this approach will serve them well in the long term.

On the night, they had no answer to Liverpool's unrelenting firepower as goals from Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino, a brace from Daniel Sturridge, used as a substitute, and a Tom Naylor own goal ensured that Liverpool enjoyed comfortable passage into the next round.

  • On the move?

  • With the summer transfer window in England shutting on Wednesday, there could still be some last-minute signings.

    While the Premier League clubs work on getting deals done in time, here is a look at the players likely to move.

    MOUSSA SISSOKO, 27 (NEWCASTLE UNITED)

    His assertive performances for France during Euro 2016 showed what he was capable of, although Newcastle fans too often saw the other side of the coin in their failed bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League last season.

    He has made it clear that he wants out and the club will sell for the right money, but the midfielder's public overtures to Arsenal have been ignored. Everton and Inter Milan are considering paying the Tyneside club's £30 million (S$53.82 million) valuation.

    Likelihood of move: 10/10


    JOSE FONTE, 32 (SOUTHAMPTON)

    Southampton have grown used to losing their best players. But they may have contributed to their captain and Euro 2016 winner wanting to leave by offering him only a small increase in wages, allowing other clubs to sense the defender's dissatisfaction at the proposal.

    The pull of Manchester United is proving too great. His transfer to Old Trafford would result in Jose Mourinho selling at least one of his five centre-backs, most likely Marcos Rojo.

    Likelihood of move: 9/10


    SAIDO BERAHINO, 23 (WEST BROMWICH ALBION)

    Will the brinkmanship between West Brom and his suitors, such as Stoke City, end or will the striker throw another tantrum? He threatened to go on strike when West Brom rejected Tottenham Hotspur's offer to sign him a year ago.

    West Brom want £15 million, but Berahino is threatening to run down his contract and move abroad, in which case the club would miss out on compensation.

    Likelihood of move: 8/10


    WILFRIED BONY, 27 (MANCHESTER CITY)

    The striker scored just four league goals last season, costing about £1.3 million each in wages, and has failed to justify his £30 million fee. West Ham United have revived their interest, which goes back to when he played for Vitesse Arnhem.

    Likelihood of move: 8/10

    THE TIMES, LONDON

On a balmy evening in Staffordshire, Sadio Mane was the pick of the bunch. The £34 million (S$61 million) summer signing from Southampton had a hand in four of Liverpool's five goals and set up three of them.

Returning to the starting line-up after missing the Burnley match with a shoulder injury, the Senegalese was a constant threat as he wreaked havoc with his searing pace. At times, he was almost unplayable.

For Klopp, the result was exactly the response he wanted.

"We had to use the defeat at Burnley to improve and we did. So all good," the Reds' manager said.

"We were much sharper around the box, though there were still a few moments when we could have been sharper. We need to have better quality with the final pass, and today was better - we were where we needed to be in the box."

As for Mane's performance, Klopp gave the impression that he is seeing only what he expected.

"I really like this player but I don't like to talk too much after only two games for him," he said.

"It's not that we have to pat ourselves on the back every day at signing him."

Liverpool next travel to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2016, with the headline 'Killer instinct must fuel Chelsea: Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe