By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hailed the impact of injured Super Eagles forward Victor Moses in the club's title aspirations.
Conte explained his decision to play Pedro at right-wing back in the absence of the Nigeria international in the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday evening.
"Victor Moses is an important player because he’s having a great season but Pedro played very well in that wing-back position," Conte told Chelsea's official website.
"As wingers, they are very offensive and that showed we wanted to play our football. Pedro had a very good game."
Moses' injury setback prevented him from playing in the international friendly against Senegal last week in London.
Conte also said his side’s shock home defeat against Crystal Palace perfectly demonstrated why he has always maintained that the Premier League title race is far from over.
The Blues could have extended their lead at the top of the table to 13 points had they won and Tottenham lost.
But Spurs beat Burnley at Turf Moor, meaning Chelsea’s lead stands at just seven points with nine games remaining.
“It makes it more interesting in the championship,” Conte said in his post-match news conference Saturdayevening.
“I always said that the league finishes when you have the mathematical team who won, otherwise you must fight and play every game to win, because in England there doesn’t exist an easy game."
Chelsea looked set to earn a 14th consecutive home victory in all competitions when Cesc Fabregas scored inside four minutes.
But two goals in two minutes put Palace ahead and the visitors held on despite Chelsea enjoying more than 70% of possession and having 24 attempts on goal.
“We deserved at least to draw, because I think we created many chances to score,” Conte added.
“We dominated the game against a very strong team with good players. It’s a pity but it wasn’t our day. They are a good side."
On his part, Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce said: “The response of the players after going a goal down was outstanding.
“They didn’t let their heads go down which is what I saw when I first came.
“The two goals shocked Chelsea and the resilient defending and the saves by the goalkeeper [Wayne Hennessey] were the reason why we won, albeit we spurned a couple of chances to get another goal. It was an outstanding performance and victory.
“Our plan how we wanted to play has been one of the keys to why we won. But a plan can only work when players play to their best of their ability, which is the absolute maximum if you want to get something from a game against Chelsea."