Conte sees room for Chelsea improvement

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes his side can still improve, despite equalling a club record of 11 consecutive top-flight victories by beating Crystal Palace 1-0 on Saturday.

Diego Costa's first-half header settled the encounter at Selhurst Park, while Marcos Alonso hit the crossbar late on.

This was not a stellar Chelsea display, but the Premier League leaders demonstrated their battling qualities to pick up a win that stretches their advantage to nine points over the chasing pack.

"The run is fantastic," Conte is quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "Congratulations to my players, not me. I am pleased for them because they deserve this.

"I see every single moment, every day. It is commitment, the way we prepare for the game and the way they fight. I am pleased for the fans who are fantastic home and away and who push us.

"We can improve, though. You can always improve in different aspects.

"I am pleased with this level we have reached and with work we can improve. It is important to understand we are only at the 17th game in the season. There are two games before the halfway.

"We are working very well and are in a good position. We must not look at the table and continue. We must not look at our rivals and continue to work hard ourselves.

"We have reached a good balance between offence and defence.

"In some moments, our goalkeeper has been decisive. We dominated the last game but [goalkeeper] Thibaut [Courtois] made a fantastic save. After last season when he conceded lots of goals, this season is going very well for him. We offend and defend as a team."

Conte will be without Costa and N'Golo Kante for the Boxing Day clash with Bournemouth after the pair picked up yellow cards.

"It is a pity," Conte added. "Diego Costa's yellow card, I don't know if he deserved it. It happened and now we try a different solution.

"Diego and N'Golo Kante are important players for us. The next game is at home and we need our fans to push us."

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