Antonio Conte defended his tactical approach as Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon.
Bernardo Silva scored the only goal as City took another stride towards the Premier League title with a 1-0 victory over their lacklustre opponents.
The scoreline did not reflect City’s dominance of a one-sided contest at the Etihad Stadium, with fading champions Chelsea offering little as they slipped to a fourth defeat in five league games.
The visitors did at least make City dig deep for their victory as, playing without a recognised striker they sat back, but Silva’s 46th-minute breakthrough was no less than the hosts deserved.
It extended City’s lead at the top of the table to 18 points and left them only four wins from the title, while Chelsea were cut five points adrift of the top four in fifth place.
“In this moment it is very difficult to play against Manchester City,” Conte told Sky Sports.
“They are a really strong team with fantastic quality. We tried. It’s a pity for the goal we conceded after 30 seconds of the second half, that changed the game. My tactics were to not concede space between the lines, if you do that you risk losing by many goals.
“They have a fantastic mentality when they lose the ball, they want to run and press and are a really strong team.”
Conte was asked if his team were adventurous enough, with criticism directed towards Chelsea’s negative approach after the game.
“Do you think this? If you give City space behind us the game can finish not 1-0. It’s not good enough but this is the truth, I don’t think this is because of the tactics.
“It’s not simple to play against Man City. They have great intensity of every moment of the game we tried to do this and defend well but we conceded a goal after 30 seconds of the second half and it’s very difficult to come back from that but don’t forget we were missing N’Golo Kante who is a crucial player for our balance.”