Liverpool - Antonio Conte warned Chelsea not to take the
Premier League title for granted after the leaders cleared a major hurdle with
a 3-0 win at Everton.
Conte's side consolidated their position on top of the table
thanks to a steely display at Goodison Park on Sunday, but second placed
Tottenham remain hot on their heels.
Pedro's brilliant strike and goals from Gary Cahill and
Willian secured Chelsea's fourth win in their last five league games, sparking
jubilant celebrations from Conte and his players.
Cavorting in front of Chelsea's travelling fans, Conte had
the look of a man who felt his team had just delivered a decisive blow in the
But while the Blues made their way back to London, Tottenham
were securing a crucial victory over Arsenal that keeps them firmly in the
With four games remaining, Chelsea have a four point
advantage over Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino's side can temporarily trim
that gap to one point if they win at West Ham on Friday, before the leaders
host Middlesbrough on Monday.
Conte knows it would only take one slip to give Tottenham
real hope of overhauling them and he cautioned his players against thinking the
race is over, even if they do have an easier run-in than Spurs.
"It is a great win but at this part of the season every
win is a great win for us," he said.
"For this reason we must celebrate in the right way,
with my players, with the staff, with our fans.
"We have to have great enthusiasm and great patience
because we are having a great season but to become a fantastic season we must
win (the title).
"The message to the players was not words. Only hugs
"Now it's important for us to prepare the right way for
the next game. If we don't win against Middlesbrough then you lose this great
Recent defeats against Crystal Palace and Manchester United
had the critics questioning whether Chelsea were set to stumble with the title
within touching distance.
But they have recovered impressively, with last weekend's FA
Cup semi-final win against Tottenham followed by league victories over
Southampton and Everton.
On paper Chelsea appear to have a smooth path to the title
as, following the clash with lowly Middlesbrough they face West Bromwich
Albion, Watford and relegated Sunderland.
Conte tried his best not to look too far ahead, but even the
cautious Italian couldn't completely hide his joy at a result that moved
Chelsea a step closer to being crowned champions in his first season.
"For sure it's a great result for us. To win at Everton
is not easy. My players showed me great patience to wait for the right moment
to hit," Conte said.
"It was important to keep the clean-sheet after a few games without one. That's good for our confidence.
"We finished a crucial week very well. We all know
there is this part of the season that is more important.
"We are having a fantastic season, but we must be calm.
I don't know how close we are to the title."
After winning their last eight home league games, Everton
were by far the strongest opponents left on Chelsea's schedule and for 60
minutes they lived up to that billing.
In the end, they crumbled under the pressure of Chelsea's
relentless probing and Everton manager Ronald Koeman admitted the Blues have
the look of champions.
Asked if Chelsea have title quality, Koeman said: "Yes,
especially in the last 30 minutes. They are confident in having a good defence.
"They wait for chances and are really clinical. Without
playing on the highest level, they still won the game because they have that attacking
"One of the most difficult things is to create chances because they have a difficult system to play against.
"When they get a little more space they kill the game."