Marcos Alonso says Chelsea ‘have seven finals left’ to clinch the title

Ben Fisher
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Marcos Alonso is a study in concentration as he fires home a free-kick for Chelsea’s third goal in the Premier League win at Bournemouth. </span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images</span>
Marcos Alonso is a study in concentration as he fires home a free-kick for Chelsea’s third goal in the Premier League win at Bournemouth. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Marcos Alonso has insisted Chelsea are mentally strong enough to cope with the pressure of holding off Tottenham Hotspur’s continued pursuit of the Premier League title.

Alonso capped Chelsea’s 3-1 victory at Bournemouth on Saturday evening with a superb free-kick to maintain a seven‑point lead over second-placed Spurs, who had cut the gap to four for a few hours by beating Watford 4-0 at lunchtime. Chelsea will face a similar situation next weekend too, with Tottenham playing Bournemouth at home on Saturday before Chelsea travel to Manchester United on Sunday.

“I think the team does well whenever we have pressure on us,” Alonso said. “We know what we are playing for, motivation is 100% and I think we played a good game. Someone said in the changing room that we know the most important thing is our result, that’s what we have to focus on, especially in training during the week to be ready for the game.

“We knew the Tottenham score before the game so we knew we could only win, we knew it was going to be a tough game but I think the team played a good 90 minutes and we got the three points.”

Tottenham are in imperious form having won their past six league matches while Chelsea have won successive games after a surprise 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace. Antonio Conte’s side require 15 points from their remaining seven games to be certain of regaining the title they last won two years ago under José Mourinho.

“We have seven finals left, every game is going to be massive, we are going to have to play each game as the last one because we need the points to get closer to the title,” Alonso, the former Bolton Wanderers full-back, said.

“The group is fantastic. We all know where we are going, we are all going in the same direction and that’s very important. The starting XI and the players who are not playing so much, the staff is all together and that’s very important. That’s a big thing and it’s going very well this year.

“Every game we win is a strong message for the other teams. We’ve been there almost all season, we are showing we want to be there, we’re playing very good and fighting for it and that’s what we need yo keep doing.”

The only negative for Conte is that Chelsea have not kept a clean sheet in the league since 22 January, against Hull City, although the Italian shrugged off any defensive concerns by emphasising the importance of victories at this stage of the season.

“I think we saw last week, we defended very well, we were compact together,” Alonso said. “We are conceding more goals but credit to the other teams as well. They are doing well and we will try to keep more clean sheets, but there’s always a good team in front of us trying to score goals. So we need the same focus, same concentration and [we move] on to the next one.”

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