Antonio Conte, disappointed rather than angry, claimed that Chelsea had deserved better from their performance as his side went down 2-1 to relegation-threatened Crystal Palace.
When Cesc Fabregas slunk through the Palace penalty area unmarked to clip home at the near post after five minutes, it had appeared that the Blues might be in for another straightforward victory at Stamford Bridge.
But within six minutes Wilfried Zaha and then Christian Benteke had turned the scoreline on its head before the visitors held out 80 minutes of Chelsea pressure to secure a crucial win.
“I think, today, we deserved at least to draw. I don’t want to say ‘win’, but at least a draw.
“We created many chances to score. We dominated the game against a team, a very strong team with really good players. Yes, it’s a pity but today wasn’t our day.”
Conte’s side did indeed create a glut of chances, many from close range. But Wayne Hennessey, who Sam Allardyce singled out for his outstanding display, kept out what a determined back four could not.
Palace had opportunities of their own on the counter but after taking an early lead they only played one way. On the hour mark, Allardyce went to a back five in anticipation of a further battering from Chelsea but for all their territorial domination, the finishing from Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas was unusually off-colour.
Now Chelsea look ahead to Wednesday and an opportunity to kill talk of a reignited title race by disposing of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Conte, however, insists his side will treat it like any other game.
“Yes, we have to play on Wednesday against Manchester City and we all know the strength of this team. But, now, the most important thing is to recover very well and rest.
“It’s important to prepare in the right way for this game, but I think, in England, there are no easy games. You could see that today against Crystal Palace. Every game will be very tough from now until the end, whether the team is Manchester City or a side fighting in the relegation zone.”