After another impressive title run-in win, you might say that Chelsea don’t seem to feel any pressure, but there’s much more to it than that. Their manager admits actively enjoys it.
Antonio Conte smiled widely when asked about it, but he barely needed to say the words. His team had done enough talking on the pitch, so easily going into a 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 win away to Bournemouth, after Tottenham Hotspur had supposedly made their life more difficult with an emphatic and impressive 4-0 victory over Watford earlier in the day.
The only effect it had on Chelsea was to energise them, as Conte pretty much admitted.
“I like the pressure,” the Italian said. I live off pressure. If I don't see pressure, I put pressure. I think pressure gives you the best of yourself.
“If you play football you know that when you play after your opponent and you see your opponent very close, it can bring a bit of pressure. But that's normal. I'm very happy to face this type of situation, to play with only four points in front of our opponent.”
That gap is now seven, because Chelsea responded in such resounding fashion.
“I'm satisfied because it wasn’t easy to play this game after the win for Tottenham. But our answer was very good. We started the game very well, with great concentration and focus and real desire to win.
“It was a pity to concede the goal and then we suffered a bit but in the second half we managed the game very well. We scored another goal and could have scored more against a really good team. Bournemouth have a good organisation and a good coach. We have to be pleased with this game.”
Conte, however, would not be drawn on whether he could now “smell” the title.
“No I don't smell victory. There are seven games to go. Our schedule is not easy. We know this. But it's impotant to go game by game.
“After the result against Crystal Palace where we didn't deserve to lose, we could have dropped points against City and then against Bournemouth. Instead we won both games. We have to continue this way.”
The only slight wrinkles were that Diego Costa still hasn’t broken his duck, with his strike for the first goal actually going in off Adam Smith, and the defence still haven’t kept a clean sheet since 22 January in the 2-0 win over Hull City.
Conte, however, was not too concerned.
“I prefer to accept a win and not have a clean sheet,” he said of the second point. And Costa?
“I'm happy with his performance. At the moment Diego is not scoring but he is totally involved in the team and our idea of football. He provoked the first goal. He must continue to work this way, with great desire and work rate and I'm sure he can score in every game.”