Chelsea one ‘little step’ from title – Conte

Chelsea Manager, Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said his side were “another little step” from the Premier League title after they crushed Middlesbrough 3-0 to move to within touching distance of glory.

Tottenham Hotspur’s surprise defeat at West Ham United last week handed Chelsea the initiative and they can now seal a second title triumph in three years if they win at West Bromwich Albion on Friday.

“We’re very close. We must be honest. But we need to do another little step and win another game,” Conte told reporters after Monday’s match, which condemned Middlesbrough to relegation.

“For sure now I’m a bit relaxed. This step was big for us, a big win.

“Now we need to do another step. We have the possibility to do this on Friday against West Brom.

“For sure it won’t be easy, because West Brom is a really good team, a physical team, and we must pay great attention.

“We are very close, but we need another step to become champions of the Premier League, which would be a fantastic achievement for us.”

While victory at West Brom will deliver the title, Chelsea also have home games against Watford and Sunderland in which to snare the three points they need to make it across the finish line.

Cesc Fabregas was Chelsea’s match-winner, inventively creating goals for Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic either side of half-time at a festive Stamford Bridge.

Marcos Alonso also found the net in the first half.

Fabregas began the season on the bench after new signing N’Golo Kante took his place, but he has played an increasingly prominent role in recent weeks.

“Cesc is one of the best examples of our season,” Conte said.

“Because in this season, Cesc at the start didn’t play a lot. And then through hard work, he improved a lot. And then he’s playing in every game.

“This development of Cesc is our development because we started the season with a lot of problems. But through hard work, together we found the right way.

“Cesc is showing (himself) to be a fantastic player and I’m pleased for him. Because I saw in this season that he put himself in this team in every moment if he played or didn’t play. Now he’s deserving this.”

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