Antonio Conte said that he deliberately creates tension within his Chelsea squad to ensure they don’t become complacent in the Premier League title race.
Chelsea face Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday aiming to maintain their nine-point lead at the top of the table against opponents who have taken 28 of their 29 points in the Premier League this season at home.
Conte’s men, however, have won 16 of 18 matches since his decision to switch to a 3-4-3 system in late September, and Swansea City are the only team outside the Premier League’s top six to take points off the leaders this season.
“Sometimes [a loss of intensity] can happen during the week. When the intensity is not high and I try to increase the tension and to warn about the danger of the game. Pay attention because in a game we risk a lot with this intensity.
“It is important to have this relationship with the players. When I was a footballer it was very important to hear my coach and [for him] to warn me. It’s important to be ready to fight. If we are a bit relaxed we will lose and that’s a pity.”
One player who has benefited particularly from Conte’s style of management is David Luiz, who is producing the most consistent football of his career at the heart of Chelsea’s back three despite feeling persistent pain in his knee.
“I’m pleased with his performances,” Conte said of Luiz. “He is showing his real value. It’s important for him and me and Chelsea. I like to repeat to all my players that you need a lot of time to be something important and you can have only one minute to disrupt all this.
“It’s important to continue this way with great concentration and great focus. When you have central defenders and you play in the middle [of a back three] you must pay great attention, you must play with great intelligence to recover, and know when to be aggressive and cover the others.”
Asked about Luiz’s willingness to play through pain, Conte added: “There are some [people] who can live with pain more than another. I can take the pain very well. Different people take the pain in different ways but I love the players who show me this behaviour for the team before themselves.” – ESPN