Conte: Chelsea need 21 points to clinch Premier League title

Yet Stoke hit back when Jon Walters, having been fouled by Cahill, picked himself up to score from the penalty spot seven minutes before the break.

"Diego is showing me a great will to think and fight for the team". For the first, a 1-0 away win over Sunderland on December 14, it was Cesc Fabregas who provided what Conte calls the "fantasy" in attack, winning Man of the Match and scoring the game's only goal.

Grant prevented it from becoming 2-0 by parrying Alonso's effort and Stoke thought they had levelled in the 34th minute when Joe Allen's corner was headed on by Cameron and then into the net by Martins Indi.

Yet he explained that it is "not the first time" he has done so, declaring that he "did also" against Burnley in February - saying: "When you want to take more risk, when you want to try to win, to take three points and not only one, to try to change".

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The Welshman said: "I've looked at it and they are saying there's a slight push from Berahino on Azpilicueta, but I didn't see him getting anywhere near the ball".

Grant did go some way to atoning for that error on the half-hour mark, though, making a crucial save to deny Marcos Alonso from close range as Chelsea looked to build a two-goal cushion.

But the spine of Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante and Diego Costa have been crucial to everything good at Stamford Bridge.

Conte was without Hazard for the clash but he made to forget his worries as Willian scored a wonderful free-kick from an acute angle to give Chelsea the lead. Despite not scoring he was left with the last laugh, like on most occasions this season.

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Phil Bardsley was sent off in the closing stages for a second yellow card.

When asked if Stoke had played against the Premier League champions, Pieters replied: 'Yes, I think we have'.

The Italian is understood to have complained that Chelsea sold three experienced first-team players during the January transfer window in Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel without recruiting any replacements. There are 10 games to go, today was a great win, a good signal but it is important to continue with the same commitment and work rate as a team. (Getty Images) The win puts Chelsea 13 points clear at the top of the table.

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