Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte conceded his final-whistle exuberance had subsided to mixed emotions by the time he faced the media in the aftermath of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool.
David Luiz’s brilliantly executive free-kick – his first goal in Chelsea colours since April 2013 – put the runaway Premier League leaders ahead after 24 minutes but Georginio Wijnaldum equalised before the hour as the atmosphere at Anfield reached fever pitch.
Diego Costa won a 76th-minute penalty, only to be denied from 12 yards, but Conte launched into impassioned celebrations on the field at full-time, recognising a job well done as dropped points for Tottenham and Arsenal left Chelsea’s advantage at a handsome nine points.
Asked whether he was satisfied overall, Conte said: “Half and half. I am pleased, for sure, for the performance of my players because it is not easy to play against Liverpool in this moment after three defeats, it is not easy to play in this atmosphere at Anfield.
“I was a footballer so I know that when you play in this atmosphere it is very, very difficult. For this reason I am very proud for my players, for the personality they showed me.
“It is a good point, for sure. When you have a great chance with a penalty in the 76th minute, for sure you think that you could win and to take three points but I think that Diego kicked very well and Mignolet made a great save.
“Also, after this situation we had two chances to score the second goal but it didn’t happen.
“Now it is important to recover and recover very well because today we wasted a lot of energy.
“This game was incredible, very tough, great intensity, a lot of pressure from both sides and for this reason a lot of mistakes.
“I am pleased for the performance of my players.”
Thanks for your support tonight. Arsenal up next… pic.twitter.com/ELE5zw22QN
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 31, 2017
Conte praised David Luiz’s opener, with Liverpool caught cold as Willian stood poised over the ball, but the former Juventus boss hopes the Brazil defender does not return to his erratic former self having produced a highlight reel moment.
“Between Willy and David Luiz there is a great feeling. It was a great free-kick,” he said.
“I am pleased for David because I think he is playing very well. It is important now for him to forget this goal and to keep the concentration for the next game against Arsenal.”
The next test of Chelsea and David Luiz’s poise comes against Arsenal this weekend.
Arsene Wenger’s men ran out 3-0 winners at Emirates Stadium when the sides met in September, but the result proved to be a watershed moment for Conte and Arsenal head into the return on the back of a 2-1 loss to Watford.
“We’ll face another great team. Arsenal is a really great team that can fight for the title. Don’t forget that in the previous game we lost 3-0 away,” the Italian added.
“I think this could be a good chance for us to show that now in the second part of the season we are a totally different team.”
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