Conte hails Chelsea’s improved defensive record

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Antonio Conte says Chelsea’s improved defensive record is a major positive to emerge from this season.

Premier League champions in the Italian’s first season as Blues boss, Conte’s side are well behind leaders Manchester City in the title race this term.

But he believes there is plenty of room for optimism after a “fantastic” year for the club ended with a 5-0 trouncing of Stoke at Stamford Bridge.

He said: “I am very pleased with the performance of all my players and very pleased to finish another game with a clean sheet.

“We are showing good solidity. If you compare with last season, we have conceded less goals. We have scored less, but conceded less.

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“We now have to continue to work hard to try to improve this team, but for sure this has been a great year for me, for my players and for the club and fans. It has been a fantastic year.

“To win the the title in England is not easy and to be able to do this in your first chance, I think I will remember this year forever.”

Conte also defended Alvaro Morata, who missed two excellent chances against the Potters.

Morata twice shot straight at keeper Jack Butland after being put through on goal, but Conte insisted he was pleased with the Spaniard’s work up front.

Conte said: “It was a pity because for a striker it is always very important to score.

“But usually I am more worried when our striker doesn’t have the opportunities to score. In this case I think Alvaro was very good to stay in the right place.

“For me it’s very important to see my players have chances to score.”