Antonio Conte was in a reflective mood as he analysed the 1-1 draw with Huddersfield that dents our hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
The boss saw his players give everything against a side that knew a point would preserve their Premier League status, and the manner in which we dominated proceedings only made the final result more frustrating. It means we go to the final day needing Liverpool to lose to stand any chance of finishing in the top four.
Conte couldn’t have asked for any more effort from his players, but like so many games in recent months, he acknowledged poor finishing cost us…
‘It’s very difficult to explain the draw,’ the boss began.
‘When you have 82 per cent possession, create many chances, concede only one counter-attack and you draw, it’s difficult to explain.
‘We played an intense game with great desire and will to get three points. I saw fantastic commitment from my players.
‘They tried to get three points but they weren’t able to score one goal more than your opposition. We had chances to score but we didn’t take them. We must accept the result and staying fifth in the table, but it’s a pity.’
Conte was asked if the changes he made to the starting XI had a bearing on the result
‘No, absolutely not. If you remember I made rotations against Burnley. Rotating means players like Morata, Willian, Christensen playing…
‘We are Chelsea, we have a big squad, and we have players who can play this type of game that you must win.
‘Against Burnley the rotation was good, but this is football. You always have this risk.’
Huddersfield got exactly what they came for and will be top-flight opponents again next term
‘We must respect Huddersfield’s plan. They started this game with one target in their mind – to take one point. They wanted to defend very deep, and we must give the best compliment to Huddersfield for this result. Great congratulations to them.’
Conte looked ahead to the remainder of this campaign and beyond
‘I’m realistic, and I think at the end of the season you finish in the position you deserve. We dropped many points this season, and if we stay in fifth it means we deserve it.
‘Now we have to focus on finishing this season. We have another league game to play, then an FA Cup final, then the club will do the best to improve the situation.’