Chelsea winger Willian has claimed Antonio Conte’s intense training regime has been key to the club’s success this season.
The Blues have been in barnstorming form of late, winning 11 games on the bounce after Conte switched to a 3-5-2 formation following the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in September.
The winning run has seen Chelsea gain a six-point lead at the top of the table, with many expecting Conte’s side to go the distance this year.
And the secret to their success, according to Willian, is not only a change in system but also due to increased intensity in training.
“We have changed it a little bit,” the Evening Standard quote Willian as saying. “There’s more freedom. I have more freedom to play. I can move inside, I can go to the left and to the right and I think it’s much better.
“The new formation helps players like me, helps Diego and helps Eden [Hazard] in front. We can move around as we have that freedom.”
Chelsea are in a completely different position to this point last year, when they were just three points above the relegation zone after Jose Mourinho was sacked following a nightmare start to the campaign.
“I was happy with my performances last season but it is difficult when the team doesn’t go the same way,” added Willian. “But I always try to do my best on the pitch. Last season I was good but this season I want to do much better. I have to improve and I think I can do it. Of course, this season the team is much better and playing with more confidence.”
The Blues’ poor performance last season saw them finish in 10th with a points total of 50, just seven more points than they have already this campaign.
As a result, Chelsea missed out on European football, meaning that intensity could be focused on in training, something that Willian attributes to his side’s winning run.
“It’s intense,” Willian told Sky Sports. “He likes to work. We train hard. Sometimes it’s two hours of intense training. We always have a plan going into the game and we have to trust in the plan. We’ve done that.
“The way we are training makes us more confident in the games. We can run and put pressure on the opponents. And when you win game by game, this brings even more confidence. The target is to stay together and to play together. If we trust in our team-mates then we have a great chance to win the title this season.”