Blues undeserving of Champions League: Conte

Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois is unable to keep out a precise effort by West Ham substitute Javier Hernandez. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw.
Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois is unable to keep out a precise effort by West Ham substitute Javier Hernandez. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea do not deserve to qualify for the Champions League next season if they cannot beat the likes of West Ham, Antonio Conte said.

The Italian shared the frustration of home supporters who booed the team off at the final whistle following the 1-1 Premier League draw on Sunday.

He blamed a failure to convert chances for not extending the Blues' advantage when leading 1-0.

The Blues have won just three Premier League games and collected 12 points in 11 league games since the start of the year, a run that has left them 10 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

"We must be realistic," Conte said. "If we are not able to win this type of game, we are talking about what? In this case, if we wanted to reach a place in the Champions League.

"Because the other teams are clinical, they create chances, they are ready to suffer and win the game. This game describes our whole season. When this happens with regularity, it means you have a problem."

  • Premier League talking points

  • 1 POGBA AND SANCHEZ FINALLY CLICK

    Paul Pogba claimed watching Manchester City celebrate the title would have been "like a death" for Manchester United fans. And after so much criticism this season, it was the Frenchman who resurrected United with two goals in two minutes in the second half.

    His second was created by Alexis Sanchez and the Chilean's free kick also teed up Chris Smalling's winner as United's two landmark signings clicked together for the first time in the 3-2 win.

  • 2 ERIKSEN MAKES SPURS TICK

    Harry Kane will always hog the headlines with his scoring exploits, but Christian Eriksen showed in Tottenham's 2-1 win at Stoke that the driving force is the dynamic Dane.

    With Kane making his first start since March after returning from an ankle injury, it was the sublimely gifted Eriksen who pulled the strings - opening the scoring with a clinical finish and then whipping in a free kick that looped straight in for the winner despite Kane claiming he got a touch.

  • 3 TRIAL OF NEW MIDFIELD PICK 

    While there were some unfamiliar faces in Liverpool's starting XI, the midfield was a rarity, featuring solely regulars. Yet this was not normal.

    Gini Wijnaldum had Jordan Henderson's usual berth at the base while the captain operated further forward. It was an experiment first adopted by Jurgen Klopp in pre-season and revived with some haste because with Henderson suspended and Emre Can a doubt, the Dutchman may have to anchor the midfield against Manchester City in the Champions League today. 

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

Chelsea also failed for the first time under Conte to win a league game at home in which they led at half-time.

For Cesar Azpilicueta, who put Chelsea ahead before a late equaliser by Javier Hernandez, it is a season that would not be redeemed even by winning the FA Cup, in which they play relegation-threatened Southampton in the semi-final on Saturday.

"The FA Cup is a massive trophy but it's not enough for us. We will try to win it but the Cup will not save our season," he said.

"To get a draw at home in another London derby is really frustrating for all of us. We are not happy."

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2018, with the headline 'Blues undeserving of Champions League: Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe