LONDON — A frustrated Antonio Conte claimed that West Ham’s fightback to earn a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge summed up Chelsea’s disappointing campaign, after Javier Hernandez’s late equaliser further dented the defending Premier League champions’ top-four hopes.
Chelsea took a deserved lead through Cesar Azpilicueta on 36 minutes and mustered 23 efforts on the West Ham goal, but a combination of poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping from Joe Hart ensured the game was still close when Hernandez replaced Gelson Fernandes with 20 minutes remaining.
Just three minutes later, the Mexican international powered a low shot beyond Thibaut Courtois after Gary Cahill had failed to clear Mark Noble’s floated ball into the box and West Ham held on to secure a draw that moves them six points clear of the relegation zone.
Chelsea, meanwhile, slip to 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham in the race for Champions League qualification. After the match Conte admitted that he is “bored” of saying that his players need to be more ruthless in the final third.
“I think this game describes very clearly our season,” he said. “This game describes it very well. Many games where we put in a good performance, creating many chances to score, but we are not clinical. How many times have I said that we didn’t take the chances we created? A lot of times.
“And then, one chance for West Ham, we concede a goal. We are talking about improving, improving, improving. But today, we must win this game. We must win it. I’m very frustrated and I hope my players go home and stay frustrated because, in this way, we have the right mentality.”
Chelsea have won just two of their 11 league games in 2018 and Conte was in no mood to bemoan bad luck.
“Otherwise, if we accept this result and say we were unlucky today, we are not building anything positive for the future,” he said. “Football is simple: If you score, you win. Otherwise, if you score only once, you stay in balance — especially in England — and anything can happen to the end. A corner in the final minute, you risk losing the win. This is not right. We must improve but, this season, I’m repeating this many times and I’m getting bored.”
Asked where the result leaves Chelsea’s aspirations for a top-four finish, Conte replied: “We must be realistic. If we are not able to win this type of game, we are talking about what? I like to continue to say ‘we need to continue to work and improve’, but you must win this game if you want to reach a target.
“In this case, if we wanted to reach a place in the Champions League [we have to win], because the other teams are clinical. They create chances, they are ready to suffer and win the game. At the end of the season, I think we’ll have struggled a lot and this game describes our whole season.”
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.