Antonio Conte’s favorite word is ‘work’. His second favorite word is ‘improve’, probably. Or ‘fight’. Or ‘commitment’. Or ‘desire’ and ‘ambition’. Or ‘attention’, ‘great’, and ‘pay’, though not in that order. After 15 months in charge of Chelsea, we’re all familiar with them, undoubtedly. Also familiar with them are the players, especially those who have been here the whole time — led by César Azpilicueta, the teacher’s pet.
One of the newest faces is young (it’s easy to forget he’s just turned 23 last month) midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko, who’s already picked up the key message from the head coach.
“I think the most important thing in football is to remember your individual challenges come through the team's goals and the challenges facing the team. So last year, for example, I won the title with Monaco and this year my main objective is to win the title with Chelsea.
“I really think that if we manage to defend the Premier League title that will be an incredible achievement and over and above even what I achieved at Monaco, because of the difficulty of the league here. It's all about the team and I'm very dedicated now to achieving the goals we have set ourselves.”
Bakayoko made his Chelsea debut against one of our fiercest rivals (these days), putting in admirably shift on one leg away to Spurs at Wembley. Compared to that, Arsenal at the Bridge should be a cakewalk, right? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
“I think that actually in terms of rivalries that Chelsea have, the one with Tottenham is perhaps even bigger than Arsenal. Having already played that match, being able to win that match, being able to bring so much happiness to our fans was really a wonderful achievement for the team.
“Now we're looking forward to the match against Arsenal, which perhaps carries less of that rivalry, but it is nevertheless incredibly important and it's absolutely vital that we work hard to achieve the right result on the pitch. [...] We've already made a good start to the season and we're at home as well so it's not a match that we can afford to lose and our objective remains based just on what happens on the field of play.”
-Tiemoué Bakayoko; source: Chelsea FC
Work hard. Fight. Pay great attention. And always improve. Oh, and take things one game at a time. There’s no need to overcomplicate things. But there is very much a need to stick to the basics and execute excellently. With both Manchester clubs going strong in the early season, couple with the rivalry, this is a must-win for Chelsea.
Sounds like the squad’s attitude and confidence is in the right place.