Fri, Apr 07, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Conte sets Blues 18-point target

SIX WINS:Spurs came from behind to beat Swansea 3-1 and Antonio Conte said his side must believe that the second-placed team will win their remaining games

AFP, LONDON

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, right, saves a shot by Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in their Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in London on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Chelsea will require 18 more points to win the English Premier League title, manager Antonio Conte told his players on Wednesday after their 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London.

Chelsea’s lead was cut to seven points after they lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace at the weekend, but they preserved their advantage over Tottenham Hotspur by seeing off City.

Spurs will end the season on 89 points if they win their final eight games and Conte says his side must win six of their remaining fixtures — which would take them to 90 points — to be sure of the title.

“I like to say only the winners write history,” Conte said. “I have intelligent players. When there is the possibility to send some message, I think these players don’t need this message. They know very well the situation. The only message I send them is that we must think Tottenham could win eight games. For this reason, we must be focused and try to win six games. If we can do this, we will win the title. Otherwise it will be a good season, but not a great season.”

With Tottenham having come from behind to win 3-1 at Swansea City, Chelsea’s lead would have been cut to four points if they had lost to Manchester City.

Chelsea took a 10th-minute lead when Eden Hazard scored via a deflection off his Belgium teammate Vincent Kompany, who made his first City start since January.

A loose kick by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois enabled Sergio Aguero to level for City in the 26th minute, but Fernandinho’s trip on Pedro gave Hazard a chance to restore Chelsea’s lead from the penalty spot 10 minutes before halftime, which he took at the second attempt after Willy Caballero saved his penalty.

City remain fourth, 14 points below Chelsea, and with Arsenal and Manchester United hot on their heels — both four points back with a game in hand — manager Pep Guardiola knows they face a scrap for a top-four finish.

“Today the Premier League has gone,” Guardiola said. “We have to think about the last seven, eight games left to get in the Champions League.”

Despite the result, Guardiola professed himself “honored” to be in charge of City’s players and said quality “in the boxes” had been the only difference between the two teams.

“I’m a lucky guy to be the manager of this club and especially these players,” the Catalan said. “We played with huge personality and not waiting. I saw many teams play here with six at the back. I like to convince our players to play in that way. You can win, you can lose. I will continue to the last day.”

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