Antonio Conte: How Chelsea boss has revived ex-Premier League champions

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This victory wasn't easy - Conte

Chelsea's win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge not only restored them to the top of the Premier League, it also offered up further evidence of the impact manager Antonio Conte has as he rebuilds the club from the trauma of last season.

The Italian is picking up the fallen champions after a desperate 2015-16 campaign that saw Jose Mourinho sacked just months after winning the title - and also after some undistinguished early performances this season.

Conte is becoming one of the league's most compelling personalities - so how is he mixing pure theatre in his technical area with the job of pointing Chelsea back in the direction that sees them fighting for the big prizes once more?

Controlling the fire

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte after the win against Tottenham: "I am pleased for the players. We have another type of confidence and are working a lot. They enjoy this type of football."

Conte's touchline antics stand alongside Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as a visual spectacle, which means the eye can sometimes be drawn to watching the touchline as much as the action.

And Conte was a blur of perpetual motion again on the Stamford Bridge sidelines in the 2-1 win against Spurs on Saturday - but the top coaches never lose control and the Italian knows there is a time and a place to keep a lid on the emotions.

Conte was involved in a long and heated exchange with fourth official Bobby Madley when an apparent handball by Harry Kane was not spotted in the second half. It ended with an outstretched hand of understanding that was graciously reciprocated by Madley.

He was also visibly desperate to inject more urgency into Chelsea as they were outplayed by Spurs for 44 minutes until Pedro's equaliser was the catalyst for a complete momentum shift.

It was a drama played out with maximum animation as his voice could be heard above the crowd. And the body language - occasionally leaping up and down on the spot - making him look like he was auditioning for Riverdance.

There is, however, substance to back up his frenzied technical area style. Conte's half-time messages, bolstered by the equaliser, were clearly received and understood by Chelsea's players as they carried out his instructions to put pressure on Spurs and play at the higher tempo that suits them.

He is transmitting his desire to Chelsea's players, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saying after the Spurs win: "He's passionate like that every day, every session and that's great for us because it keeps us focused and sharp."

It has also roused Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea's fans warming to Conte and chanting his name constantly on Saturday night.

Conte's sideshow may be eye-catching but his blood remains cool enough to make the right tactical moves that ensured Chelsea saw out the closing stages of this tight contest in relative comfort.

Obsessive but humble

Antonio Conte
Conte won the manager of the month award for October

Conte was keen to stress he wanted his work, and the fact that Chelsea are back on top of the table, to stay low-key and be treated with modesty. "We must continue to work, improve and we must stay humble," said the 47-year-old.

And that is clearly what he intends to do for one of the biggest games of the season when they travel to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City next Saturday lunchtime.

For all the emotion on the touchline, Conte is quietly spoken and measured in his press conferences with an increasingly impressive command of English.

As Courtois hinted, Conte is obsessive about his work and all the traits he developed in Italy are being brought to bear as Chelsea look unrecognisable from last season.

Conte was known as "The Hammer" by some members of the Italian media for the demands on his players, often ringing them at 11pm during his time at Juventus to advise them of changes to training schedules, keeping them on their toes.

He even produced a document on players' diet and his exacting standards have not dropped since he took over the office at Chelsea's Cobham training base.

As he once said himself: "There are situations in which you are the hammer and in which you are the anvil. We have to understand the role of the technical staff is of the anvil."

He also has the miles on the managerial clock to know how to handle every eventuality.

Conte was sacked as coach of Italian Serie B side Arezzo in October 2006, but rehabilitated his career with Bari, Atalanta and Siena before winning three successive Serie A titles with Juventus and taking charge of Italy's national team.

Former Italy striker and Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli, who was captain when Conte was a player at Juve, told BBC Sport during Euro 2016: "Football is his life and therefore he wears his heart on his sleeve. He doesn't try to be someone else. After the game he is a very pleasant, quiet guy - but during the 90 minutes he wants to win."

And winning is something he is becoming very good at with Chelsea.

Winning over the dressing room

Antonio Conte
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill (centre with Conte): "We're in a good moment as a side and on the training ground"

Chelsea's dressing room is regarded as one of the most powerful and influential in the Premier League. There have been previous accusations of player power - rejected by those inside the dressing room - but it is "so far so good" with Conte.

And a testimony to the harmonising effect he has had can be seen with the presence of John Terry on the substitutes' bench.

The 35-year-old has been unable to regain his place since injury and a switch to Conte's favoured three-man defensive system left him on the margins.

Terry accepts his situation is being shaped by successful results and in conversation with former Chelsea team-mate William Gallas, he praised Conte's straight-talking, honest approach and said: "If I don't get back in the team it means Chelsea are winning and at the minute we are not conceding goals. It possibly means we are going to win the league and if that's with me or without me that doesn't matter."

Conte trusts his players, which is evident from the improvement in forward Pedro and fellow striker Victor Moses after loan spells at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham. He has flicked the switch with forward Eden Hazard but has decided midfielder Cesc Fabregas is someone he can currently do without.

And what of the warhorse Diego Costa? He is also a beneficiary of Conte's methods.

He wanted the infamously combustible striker to keep his cool after a couple of red card near-misses at the start of the season. While Costa will never be a peaceful presence on the pitch he has clearly listened, taking two heavy bangs early on against Spurs but not retaliating in the manner of old.

Costa certainly knows who is boss after his demand to be substituted during the 3-0 win against Leicester City to avoid a yellow card and possible suspension for the game against Manchester United was studiously ignored.

Of course all is usually sweetness and light when victories are coming easily, but Conte is determined to do it his way at Chelsea or not at all.

Model of efficiency

Antonio Conte
Conte's Chelsea have only conceded 10 goals in the league so far - the joint-tightest defence along with Tottenham

Conte's watershed moment appeared to arrive very early at Stamford Bridge after miserable performances in the 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool and a 3-0 loss at Arsenal in late September.

After that Arsenal defeat, Conte trusted his tactical instincts and reverted to three at the back with David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta. He used Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in similar roles for Juventus and Italy.

The result? Seven successive Premier League wins and only one goal conceded since the day Chelsea lost at Arsenal and sat in 10th place, eight points behind then-leaders Manchester City, who they now lead by one point going into next week's meeting.

Ironically, since the Arsenal game they have had less percentage possession - 52.79% against 56.88% - than they had in the matches before. Chelsea have also had fewer shots, an average of 16.7 up to the Arsenal game compared with 15.4 after, but they have become a much more efficient machine.

The manner in which Liverpool pressed Chelsea into submission, and the way Arsenal cut them open with three first-half goals clearly left Conte with food for thought.

The results since have proved Conte is determined to learn the ways of the Premier League and take decisive action. Chelsea's place at the Premier League summit is the reward.