Antonio Conte insisted that Chelsea deserved more than to be held to a goalless draw by Everton, and defended his decision not to start Michy Batshuayi up front in the absence of suspended Alvaro Morata.
Chelsea registered 25 shots and eight on target against Everton, who successfully frustrated their visitors by defending deep and in numbers but also failed to register a single shot on target in a Premier League home game for the first time in six years.
In spite of Everton’s cautious gameplan, Chelsea went close to breaking through when Phil Jagielka was forced to clear the ball off his goal line twice in quick succession in the first half and after the break when Ashley Williams headed against his own crossbar.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Conte said that his team needed more luck as well as more ruthlessness in front of goal.
“We dominated the game and created many chances to score,” Conte insisted. “I think this result is unfair.
“Honestly we deserved to win. If you watched the game you could see that we played from the start until the end towards one goal, we created many chances, hit the crossbar and maybe [Jordan] Pickford was the best player for them. The result is unfair.
“I think after the six top teams Everton is the best team in this league. To dominate here is not easy. We have to go game by game, continue in this way and also have a bit more luck. We have to continue to play in this way with this intensity.”
Due to Morata’s suspension Conte again opted to deploy Hazard as a false No. 9 flanked by Pedro Rodriguez and Willian, but Chelsea appeared to lack a focal point at times as they probed Everton’s deep-lying defence.
Batshuayi was introduced in Willian’s place on 71 minutes, and after the match Conte was defiant when questioned about his decision not to turn to the Belgian striker earlier.
“I think there is nothing to explain,” Chelsea’s head coach added in his postmatch news conference. “I decided to play with Hazard, Willian and Pedro. It is not the first time. I have to make the best decision for my team, and today I think I made the best decision.
“It is very important to keep the balance during the game. Don’t forget today Morata was out and I think this player is very important for us, but at the same time we played with second options, with three No. 10s — Willian, Pedro, Hazard — and we created many chances. We must be more clinical.
“I understand [criticism] if you drew a game without dominating, without risk to lose the game. Today we were also a bit unlucky with the crossbar and with a lot of situations. This is football. The most important thing is to play football this way and force your opponent to defend.”
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