Antonio Conte challenged Chelsea supporters to match his passion during matches after Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge extended the Blues’ winning streak to seven games and returned them to the top of the Premier League.
Christian Eriksen gave Spurs hope of a first victory at Stamford Bridge since February 1990 when he fired in from long range after just 11 minutes, but Pedro Rodriguez netted a spectacular equaliser shortly before half-time and Victor Moses scored what proved to be Chelsea’s winner in the 51st minute.
Chelsea sat back to defend their lead in the closing stages as Conte attempted to ramp up the noise of the home fans, and after the match the Italian insisted that Stamford Bridge can become a Premier League fortress again if supporters help to make it so.
“The fans were very important, they pushed a lot behind us and supported a lot during the game,” Conte told Chelsea’s official website. “It is important our crowd live the game with great intensity and passion, because they can transfer this to the players. And Stamford Bridge is perfect if we are able to create the right atmosphere.
“We knew the importance of this game to our fans — a special game and we haven’t lost this game for 25 years, I know this — and also because don’t forget, Tottenham was unbeaten. This was the first defeat for them [in the Premier League this season]. They deserved to come here unbeaten, because they showed they are a great team.”
Tottenham made much of the early running at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea struggled to deal with the intense pressing of their opponents, but Gary Cahill was pleased with how the Blues gradually imposed themselves once it became clear that Spurs’ energy levels were waning.
“The second half was more like us,” Cahill told Chelsea’s official website. “We kept trying to play in the way that’s given us success. The crowd was getting a bit frustrated but we have our style of play and at times it’s hard to do it.
“It’s about selecting the right time to do it. When a team presses as hard as they pressed in the first half it’s difficult to do that for 90 minutes. They didn’t press us aggressively [in the second half]. They dropped off a little bit more and allowed us to play our football. It’s an element of cat and mouse seeing if they were going to keep doing it for the whole game, which is very tough to do.”