English Premiership

Chelsea battling for CL future - Conte

2017-12-11 19:07
Antonio Conte (Getty)

London - Antonio Conte says Chelsea are battling to secure their Champions League future and warned of a "bad surprise" after weekend results left them 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

After a fourth loss in 16 games against West Ham on Saturday, the Chelsea boss thinks a title challenge is now all but over and spoke of a revised target ahead of Tuesday's Premier League clash at Huddersfield.

"I like to win," said Conte. "When we lose I'm not happy. In 16 games we lost four games. My experience tells (me) it's impossible to win the title.

"Now we must be focused in the league to go game by game, to do our best. This league is not simple. We have to fight to find a place in the Champions League."

But securing a Champions League berth will not be easy, with six big Premier League clubs all chasing four spots.

Conte's focus is on the immediate future and not the Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona.

He has continually bemoaned a lack of transfer activity last summer, when he watched rivals City and Manchester United strengthen their squads.

But the Italian is seeking an immediate response and is not relying on new recruits in January's winter transfer window to improve Chelsea's fortunes.

Midfielder Danny Drinkwater missed the West Ham loss through illness, while defender David Luiz is being monitored over his knee injury.

Conte is likely to make changes for the trip to Huddersfield. Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko was substituted at half-time at the London Stadium and striker Alvaro Morata was replaced 10 minutes into the second half and both could be in need of a rest.

And Conte, who repeated his Chelsea side are rebuilding after the departures of the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard in recent seasons, says it is important the summer arrivals are given time to bed in.

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Saturday, 24 February 2018
Leicester City v Stoke City, King Power Stadium 14:30
Liverpool v West Ham United, Anfield 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Swansea City, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
West Bromwich Albion v Huddersfield Town, The Hawthorns 17:00
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