Diego Costa was involved in a number of heated exchanges with Stoke City players, but Antonio Conte felt the Chelsea striker showed good discipline in his side’s 2-1 victory.
The notoriously bullish forward set about ruffling the Stoke defence soon after kick-off and was shown a yellow card in the 17th minute when he reacted angrily after going down easily during a duel with Bruno Martins Indi.
Costa clashed with Ryan Shawcross and Phil Bardsley as the game continued, but Conte was proud of the restraint showed by his player in avoiding a sending off.
“Diego I think played very well and also he showed me great discipline because it’s not easy to start the game and receive a yellow card,” Conte said in a post-match interview.
“Diego is showing me great behaviours, a great will to fight for the team. I want to continue this way and I think he is a really good player.”
The mental and physical toughness displayed by Chelsea was a highlight for Conte, though he is not getting ahead of himself with regards to winning the Premier League title despite opening up a 13-point lead.
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 18, 2017
The advantage could be cut on Sunday, though, with Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool all in action – the latter two against one another.
He said: “I’m pleased because to come to this point of the season and to play against Stoke you must be prepared mentally and physically.
“It was a tough game, we tried to always play football. I think we deserved to win, but we faced a very good very strong team.
“There are 10 games to go, the win is a good signal for us. It’s important to continue this way, with the same commitment and work-rate and to think as a team.
“At this point of the season to have 10 points – now we have 13 points – but I like to think, I don’t like but I put that our opponent could win tomorrow and come back against to 10 points.
“I think that we have to look at ourselves and not the others. Today was an important win for us and if good results arrive from other games we are happy.”