Conte demands sharper finishing

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte urged his players to be more clinical in front of goal after they converted just one of 24 shots in their 1-0 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday.

The hosts dominated the match for long periods but their only breakthrough came via Marcos Alonso's long-range free kick in first-half stoppage time.

"When you do not score the second goal, you have to suffer," Conte told Sky Sports.

"You are afraid at every corner and free kick and the opponent has the chance to draw.

"We dominated the game, shooting 24 times, hitting the post, and we needed to score the second goal to be relaxed. We had lots of shots, but we must be more accurate in our finishing."

Chelsea have now won eight of their past 10 Premier League matches, with just one loss against West Ham United on Dec 9.

MINIMISE THE PRESSURE

When you do not score the second goal, you have to suffer. You are afraid at every corner and free kick and the opponent has the chance to draw.

ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea manager, on the extra pressure created by a lack of shooting accuracy.

"We have to be happy with the performance and the clean sheet," Conte added.

"In the last 10 games, we have won eight, drawn one and lost one. This is our run. It shows we are doing our job."

The Italian also believes that his team have been denied credit for their recent good spell because of league leaders Manchester City's run of 16 victories.

"If someone asks me if I'm ready to sign for these results in the next 10 matches, I'm ready," Conte said.

"Someone is forgetting this run because we see that there is another team that is winning every game. But I'm happy because my players played the game with great concentration and we deserved to win."

Southampton, meanwhile, have gone five league games without a victory.

"It was a difficult game," Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino said.

"With five defenders, you do not have a lot of people in the middle and they managed the ball better. But we got a couple of chances and were close to equalising."

One name on the Southampton bench provoked a talking point: Virgil van Dijk, a Liverpool and City target, was not selected by Pellegrino with two weeks until the January transfer window opens.

On van Dijk, he added: "We had played three games in six days. I changed a lot of players and Virgil was just one of them.

"I cannot control the market. All I can do is relay my opinion, after that the board can decide what is best for the team. I would recommend to try to keep our best players at the club."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2017, with the headline 'Conte demands sharper finishing'. Print Edition | Subscribe