For all the talk of crisis at Stamford Bridge following last week’s meltdown against Burnley, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was left saluting his side on Sunday after they edged Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in a match they could just as easily have lost.
“I think I must be pleased,” said Conte, whose nine-man side were beaten 3-2 by Burnley in their opening match of the new Premier League season.
“I want to thank my players because they showed me great desire and heart and I saw today the fighters.”
The Italian was particularly pleased because the champions were without the suspended Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill, giving Tiemoue Bakayoko his debut and trusting Andreas Christensen at the heart of their defence.
But it was a couple of old hands in David Luiz and Marcos Alonso who stood out.
The Brazilian was pushed forward into midfield and had a hand in both goals. Chelsea made the breakthrough against the run of play on 23 minutes when Alonso thumped home a superb free kick from 20 meters after Dele Alli had fouled Luiz.
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte (C) celebrates on the pitch at the end of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 20, 2017. Chelsea won 2-1. (AFP)