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Conte, the Hannibal of Chelsea, keeps finding or making a way

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Chelsea v Stoke City - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

There’s a delightful little anecdote at the start of the Daily Mail’s match report from yesterday’s 4-2 win over Stoke City about how Antonio Conte gave presents to all the staff at Chelsea this Christmas — not just his coaching staff, but all the support, administrative, and facilities staff — and even wrote an individual note to each recipient. He ended the notes with a quote from Hannibal (or at least a quote attributed to Hannibal): “We will either find a way or we will make one.”

And that’s just the sort of man the Chelsea boss is, though I find it a bit disappointing he didn’t write something about hard work on it. I suppose the meaning of the quote, said to have been said in response to Hannibal’s generals pointing out that the Alps are rather tall and impassable, encapsulates hard work and dedication and so much more.

That may all sound like a broken record (or, in a more relatable reference to today’s generation, a Rihanna song) but the methods are working and the attitudes are clearly rubbing off on all the players.

“He’s rubbing off on us. We all like that, we all want to go out and work hard for each other. It starts from the manager and the team he has behind him, we just want to keep it going.”

“We want to be a part of records, every players wants that. We want to go again and try to break it but to do that you have to work hard.”

-Gary Cahill; source: Chelsea FC

The Stoke win was Chelsea’s 10th in a row in all competitions, a new club record. It was our 13th win in a row in the Premier League, matching Arsenal’s record from 2001-02. A win against Spurs on Wednesday would break that record and match Arsenal’s 14 won in a row over two seasons in 2002.

More importantly, it would keep Chelsea well clear of the rest of the top four scrum. Chelsea are six points ahead of Liverpool in second, but there are only seven points separating the Reds from the Red Devils of Jose Mourinho in sixth. The top four is going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight, but if Chelsea can keep on winning or dropping minimal amounts of points, we won’t have to get involved in all that.

Conte has warned that the second half of the season will not be easy and everyone will be gunning for the Blues. We’ve already seen that in comments from Klopp as well as Pochettino in the past 24 hours.

“They won 13 games in a row. Not bad. Can you imagine how annoying it is when you win 13 games in a row and there is still one team only six points behind?”

“It is unbelievably difficult in this league but we cannot have a look at Chelsea, they are unbelievably strong and they are on an outstanding run. We have to win our games and see where that takes us.”

-Jürgen Klopp; source: F365

The Liverpool boss would be well reminded that Chelsea started this run three points behind them and despite Liverpool’s own stellar form, they’re still six points off the top. They’ve dropped more points during Chelsea’s winning run than Chelsea themselves have all season.

Meanwhile on the heels of Spurs’ 4-1 destruction of Watford on Sunday, Pochettino thinks he’s been charged by the Premier League gods to beat Chelsea on Wednesday, for the good of the world or some such.

“It's important for the Premier League for us to win, to try to stop them. In the end our challenge is to be in the top four.”

-Mauricio Pochettino; source: ESPN

Chelsea have had a few famous games at White Hart Lane over the years (both good and bad — mostly good), and this one’s shaping up nicely to become another one.

Time to make a way.