Chelsea suffered a shock defeat at home against Crystal Palace on Saturday as Antonio Conte‘s side showed the first signs that the pressure of a Premier League title charge is getting to them.
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The PL leaders took the lead through Cesc Fabregas but gave up two quickfire goals to Palace and paid the ultimate price despite dominating large swathes of the game. Chelsea couldn’t break through due to Palace’s heroic defending but won’t be too disheartened as they played well and created chances yet were hit by two pieces of clinical finishing and gave up plenty of opportunities late on as they pushed for an equalizer.
Speaking to the BBC after the game Conte admitted his team conceded sloppy goals but wanted to shift the focus to a big game on Wednesday against Manchester City.
“This is football. We must accept this result,” Conte said. “We scored our goal after five minutes and then we conceded two in a few minutes. When you concede goals in that way you must understand the situation and improve on these mistakes.
“In every game in England, anything can happen. The league is so strong. We faced a team today with strong players. I think they showed they were a good team. Now we have to think about the next game. If we had won we would have been happy but now it’s important to focus on Manchester City.”
Chelsea’s captain Gary Cahill added that the loss was a step back for the Blues but all the focus will be on a blockbuster encounter at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
“It’s a little set back but we need to focus on Wednesday. We need to keep calm and go again,” Cahill said. “The gap is still there. It puts emphasis on Wednesday. It adds a bit more pressure but the boys respond to that.”
Now, everything is set up rather nicely for Chelsea’s clash with City. If the Blues lose a second-straight home game in a matter of days and Tottenham win at Swansea, then their lead will be cut to four points.
A few cracks are starting to appear for Chelsea as their run-in looks a little trickier than it did before this weekend.