Chelsea look to keep momentum ahead of FA Cup final with Arsenal
07:36, May 15, 2017
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Chelsea were suffering late nerves as a dogged West Brom threatened to prolong the title race but Belgian global Batshuayi prodded home the victor after 82 minutes to spark manic celebrations from triumphant manager Antonio Conte.
Instead of treating them like naughty schoolboys, Conte - a former altar boy and devout Catholic - promised they would find him honest and compassionate, as long as they followed his demanding regime to the letter.
Conte joined on a three-year contract last July and had been set a pre-season target of securing a top-four place and Champions League qualification.
This is not to have another go at Hazard, Costa and the rest for opting out of parts of last season, but to recall the difficulties Conte faced in the first few games of this campaign. "In this season, we have lost Ivanovic, Mikel and next season we lose John Terry", Conte was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror in April.
The squad in blue including all the players and the coaching staff were involved in some wild celebrations with manager Conte being tossed high into the air by the players.
Conte refused to discuss reports of a disagreement with 20-goal Costa in public, attributing the striker's absence from the Premier League trip to Leicester to a back injury.
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregassaid: "I thought it was going to be one of those days. Every single player found in this system the best for them".
The Italian was injured in the celebrations and he said: "In those moments anything can happen".
"I know them, I know the characteristics of my players and we can improve".
Despite reaching such incredible heights this season, Conte feels that the team can get a lot better.
Conte's current deal is worth £6.5m a year, less than Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp are paid.
He spoke to Today FM's Ian Beach in the tunnel last night at the Hawthorns, after the Blues confirmed the title with a 1-0 win against West Brom, and he says that he needed those first two months to get to grip with his new side.
The end of the evening was in stark contrast to the start, as a stubborn West Brom defended deep and in numbers and frustrated Chelsea.
"I thank them for their commitment and work-rate".
The 36-year-old has 715 appearances and could make three more, if he features in the remaining three games at the end of his 22 years of service.
One thing's for sure - the Antonio Conte era is most certainly under way. "They show me a great attitude to try to do something great this season".