Can Chelsea catch Manchester City? Conte 'realistic' on title race
Chelsea's win over Bournemouth was their second straight Premier League triumph, but Antonio Conte knows defending the title will be tough.
Antonio Conte says Chelsea must be "realistic" over their chances in the Premier League title race.
The Premier League champions deservedly won 1-0 at Bournemouth courtesy of a second-half strike from Eden Hazard, enough to move them back into fourth position.
But free-scoring leaders Manchester City also won on Saturday – beating West Brom 3-2 at the Hawthorns – ensuring they remain nine points clear of Conte's men, having made the best-ever start to a Premier League season after 10 games.
And Conte is reluctant to make any bold proclamations over Chelsea's title hopes after their comparatively slow start to the season, which included a home loss to City.
"At this moment we must be realistic by going game by game," Conte said at his post-match media conference.
"We have 19 points and we deserve to have 19 points.
"We are first in our group in the Champions League. We went into the next round of the Carabao Cup after going out in the second round last season.
"I'm very happy with this group. There are players who are very honest, players who want to fight until the end for something important.
"Are we able to do this? I don't know. But we will try to stay there.
"I know very well that, in England in this league, there are six top teams, very strong. Four go into the Champions League. Two have to stay out and play Europa League. Last season we saw this. It was very, very, very difficult.
"For us, it's very important to overcome this period. We started this season with a lot of problems: starting in the summer with Hazard's surgery, then an injury to Pedro, then two red cards for our players and an injury for N'Golo Kante with the national team, then Victor Moses.
"We faced a lot of problems. But we stay there. We try to do our best in every moment."
Conte added: "This was a good win, also because the other teams [around us] all won, apart from Tottenham who lost. It was important to build on the win against Watford and against Everton in the Carabao Cup.
"The only negative aspect is when you create so many chances to score, you have to take them. If you keep the result only at 1-0, you risk drawing in the end.
"But for the rest, I'm very happy. We played good football against a very good team, with great organisation, a good coach.
"Don't forget Manchester City only won here in the last minute of the game, and they played a very good game against Tottenham away.
"Honestly, last season we won 3-1 here but we have played better than last season. We controlled the game."
3 - Eden Hazard has netted 3 goals in his last 3 games for Chelsea in all competitions, as many as in his previous 17. Edge. pic.twitter.com/uuv59AIksT— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 28, 2017
Eddie Howe, meanwhile, admitted his concern at Bournemouth's results, with his side sitting second bottom of the table with only seven points and six goals from their first 10 games.
"It's a worry, I'm not going to hide from that fact," he said. "We need to find a way to draw these games, or even nick them.
"I think we have a run of games coming up where we have to win. I think you need to have a good run during the season, it will make a huge difference and we are prepared.
"I don't think we hurt them, we didn't stretch their back five and a poor touch here and there stopped us.
"There were positives from the second half, not the first, you have to give Chelsea a lot of credit for that. We were too passive in the first half."