Goals in each half from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were enough to secure Chelsea an 18th victory in 21 Premier League matches since Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 formation in late September, with Manuel Lanzini netting a consolation for the hosts in the final seconds.
Conte admitted that Chelsea went into the match feeling pressure after Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool all won over the weekend, and criticised his team only for failing to score more goals at the London Stadium.
“Today was not easy, to play after your opponents and know they won, so if you drop points you give hope to your opponents in the chase,” Conte said. “But we played under pressure today and our answer was very good.
“I’m very pleased for my players. We controlled the game and did not concede a lot. Our central defenders played very well against these long balls for Carroll.
“West Ham started the game very well, with great intensity, to put pressure on us. I watched the game between Sunderland and City [on Sunday] and it was the same, with Sunderland trying for 30 minutes to put a lot of pressure on. This type of game, it’s right to manage this type of situation.
“West Ham are a really good team with really good players and a good coach. They tried to put a lot of pressure on. West Ham against Chelsea is a derby, and there is a big difficulty in this type of game. We were very good to manage at the start of the game, and then score the goal to control the game.
“Honestly, we scored our first goal — a really good goal — but I think we created today more chances to score. We must be more clinical to finish the game.
“When you stay 1-0 or 2-0, in England anything can happen. You can see that, had West Ham scored after 85 minutes rather than 92, we’d have been in trouble. For this reason, we have to be more clinical when we create chances to score, score, score. And also to try not to concede.”
The victory maintains Chelsea’s status as overwhelming Premier League title favourites, 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham with 11 matches to play, but Conte is adamant that the race is far from run.
“The games are starting to be less, but I think this league will still be really tough until the end,” he added. “I listen to the other coaches of the other teams, and they trust [themselves] to win — and it’s right to have this ambition.
“It’s important for us to know the others have this ambition, to keep this anger and will to fight and stay on top of the league.
“For sure, it won’t be easy. We know this. But I trust my players because they are showing me great commitment not only in games, but during the week: in every training session, great will to work and improve, to improve our work. I trust them. Absolutely.”
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