Antonio Conte: Chelsea 'gave everything' in defeat to Manchester City
LONDON -- Antonio Conte insisted that Chelsea "gave everything" despite being outplayed by Manchester City in a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and added that he does not believe Alvaro Morata's hamstring injury is a serious concern.
Kevin De Bruyne's emphatic strike in the 67th minute settled the match in favour of Pep Guardiola's men, who made a Premier League title statement by pinning Chelsea back from the outset and increasing their dominance when the impressive Morata was forced off after just 35 minutes.
Prior to the match, Conte complained about the decision to schedule the game for Saturday that allowed City one day more to prepare, and he refused to criticise his players' performance or application at the end of a gruelling run of seven matches in 21 days in all competitions.
"For sure there is disappointment for the result, but I think at the same time I'm pleased, I'm pleased for the commitment of my players," he said. "Today we gave everything. After a game you can win or you can lose, but I think the most important thing is to see that your players give you everything.
"We played against a really good team. We created chances to score. We didn't take it. City created a chance and were very good to take the chances to score. In this type of game it's very important to score first. Great compliments to Manchester City."
Morata's injury forced Conte to change his plans and play without a conventional No.9 as Willian partnered Eden Hazard up front, but Chelsea's coach is hopeful his star striker can use the October international break to recover without missing matches.
"It's a muscular problem," he added. "I don't think it's a serious problem because he stopped before it will become a serious injury.
"He said to me 'coach I prefer to stop myself otherwise I risk a bad injury.' I don't know. The doctor now in the next days has to check the situation, but I don't think he's available for the [Spain] national team."
Spain are in control of UEFA World Cup qualifying Group G, with a three-point lead over Italy ahead of games against Albania and Israel next week.
Asked why he favoured Willian to replace Morata rather than Michy Batshuayi, Conte replied: "It was a simple tactical decision. This type of game I thought Willian with Hazard was a good decision, to try to exploit the space behind the defenders. It's a simple tactical decision."
A second home Premier League defeat of the season leaves Chelsea six points adrift of both Manchester United and City after seven matches, but Conte was not in the mood to draw any solid conclusions about the title race in September.
"I think we have to look at ourselves," he said. "We have to try to put in every game everything. Everything. We did this today. Damage or no damage, we have to go game by game, to do our best and then we'll see at the end of the season what happens in the way that we finish the league.
"When I see that my players give everything, we must be pleased despite the bad result."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.