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English Premier League

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wants to deal fatal blow to Liverpool’s title hopes

Chelsea manager wants his Premier League leaders to inflict the ‘hard hit’ of defeat upon hosts when the sides meet at Anfield

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 9:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 9:53am

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wants his Premier League leaders to inflict the “hard hit” of defeat upon Liverpool when the sides meet at Anfield on Tuesday.

Conte’s men are currently 10 points in front of Liverpool, who have won just once in eight games in all competitions this month.

While accepting that there will be 15 league games for both clubs after Tuesday’s match, Conte believes a Chelsea win would deal a huge blow to the title hopes of a Liverpool side who won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in September – one of just three league defeats for the Blues so far this term.

“It could be a hard hit mentally for them (if Liverpool lose to Chelsea),” said Conte on Monday.

“It’s important to win this type of game, increase your confidence, take three points from a rival,” added Conte, who took charge after coaching his native Italy at last year’s European Championship.

“I hope to change the result if you compare the first game and the first part of the season.”

Chelsea’s loss to Liverpool was compounded with a defeat by London rivals Arsenal – the Blues’ visitors at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp at a low ebb as Chelsea come to town

Arsenal are currently Chelsea’s closest title challengers, with Arsene Wenger’s men presently eight points off top spot in second place.

“It’s a very important week, but also I know after two of these games we have 14 games to finish the championship,” said Conte.

“The results are important, but the championship doesn’t finish after these two games.”

Having let Chelsea play with a back four at the start of his time with the west London club, defeat by Arsenal led Conte to revert to his favoured 3-4-3 formation.

Chelsea then embarked upon a 13-match winning streak in the Premier League which only ended at Tottenham Hotspur, another London side, on January 4.

“Honestly, I think we are a different team, not Liverpool. I think that we grew a lot,” Conte said.

“After the game (against Liverpool) I said ‘today we faced a great team, a really great team, but today we are not a team. Only through work we can improve to become a team’. I think it happened.

“We grew a lot and for this reason now we are top of the table.

“It’s incredible this, because it’s not easy to have two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal and to find the strength to start and to arrive top of the table and to have 13 wins in a row.”