Saturday, June 19, 2021

Twin defeats sparked Chelsea surge, says Conte


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Chelsea’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS /

Premier League leaders Chelsea’s storming 11-game winning run was forged in their back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, according to manager Antonio Conte.

Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday equalled the club record for successive league victories, set over two seasons in 2009, and left them seven points clear at the top of the table.

Immediately prior to the run, Chelsea lost 2-1 at home to Liverpool and then fell 3-0 at Arsenal, and Conte believes those results sparked a change in attitude.

“After the defeat against Liverpool, and also against Arsenal, it changed something in me, in the players, in the club,” the Italian said, in comments published by British newspapers on Monday.

“We understood the way to go and have a different season, compared to last season. It was different.

“For this reason, we found the right solution, formation, but also to improve the quality of the work in all aspects. After these two bad games, we changed a lot.”

The beginning of Chelsea’s turnaround can be pinpointed to the exact moment Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation during the second half of the defeat at Arsenal on September 24.

He has kept faith with the system ever since, with stunning results, but admits he harboured doubts about whether his players were suited to it.

“Before the game against Liverpool, I understood our formation wasn’t good to face Liverpool, tactically, and we paid for this,” he said.

“Also, against Arsenal, I said to change, because now we are playing with three central defenders.

“In the history of Chelsea, this never happened, no? To change it totally, this situation, is not easy. You must go slowly, slowly, and to put the idea (across).

“In my mind, and also before the games against Liverpool, there was the will to change, but I waited until the right moment.

“You always hope not to make great changes to the team. I have players that had only played with four (in defence).”

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