Spurs’ 4-0 victory over Watford at lunchtime on Saturday only increased Chelsea’s resolve at Bournemouth in the evening. The result was a convincing performance on a ground where Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool had all failed to win.
“We knew the Tottenham score before the game so we knew we could only win,” said Marcos Alonso, Chelsea’s man of the match at the Vitality Stadium. “The team does well whenever we have pressure on us. We know what we are playing for, motivation is 100 per cent and we played a good game.
“The group is fantastic. 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, are all together.
Marcos Alonso admits Chelsea were pumped up following Tottenham's win earlier in the day
“We have seven finals left, every game is going to be massive. We are going to have to play each game as [we played] the last one because we need the points to get closer to the title. 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 to keep doing.”
As well as fighting, Chelsea also produced moments of artistry, not least Alonso’s exquisitely flighted free-kick which calmed any fears of a Bournemouth comeback.
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“I hit the [crossbar] twice already,” he said. “When I took the ball, everyone was saying, ‘Please, one inch lower…’
“I was very happy because it was the goal which gave us the peace to relax and make the game more comfortable.”
Chelsea’s next pressure game is against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Conte did not want to discuss what is likely to be another fractious touchline encounter with Jose Mourinho following two lively matches at Stamford Bridge in league and FA Cup, but he expects his team to keep their emotions in check whatever happens in the technical area, and promised they will not be looking to draw – an accusation that Mourinho has levelled at many visiting teams.
Antonio Conte's side regained their seven point lead at the top
“For sure, this game will be a tough game but we are ready to play,” Conte said. “It is important in every game to try to take three points.
“We are in good form, the players have the right confidence and then we want to try to win but in the same way that United will try to win.”
Bournemouth face Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday and Conte said: “It will be a different challenge. Watching them play against Watford they were hugely impressive.
"But the challenges against the top teams are always quite similar, in terms of the counter-attack threats [they pose] and it’s always a challenge to get the ball off them.”