Cesc Fabregas admits Chelsea players thought Antonio Conte's training methods were 'too demanding' at the start of the season

SAM LONG
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Cesc Fabregas has revealed Chelsea's players thought Antonio Conte's training methods were "too demanding" at the start of the season but is now adamant the Italian's attention to tactical details has paid off.

Conte took over at Stamford Bridge last summer, charged with reclaiming the Blues' place among the elite after a disappointing 10th place Premier League finish.

The 47-year-old guided Chelsea to just three wins in their opening six top-flight fixtures, which led to widespread doubts that the west Londoners would be able to maintain a title challenge this term.

But such uncertainty proved to be unfounded as Chelsea have been almost flawless following Conte's decision to switch to a 3-4-3 formation in October 2016.

The club are now on course to secure their fifth title of the modern era, courtesy of a 10-point lead at the top of the table with just 10 games left to play, and Fabregas is convinced he and his teammates have been converted to the benefits of Conte's rigorous workload.

"I think everyone at the beginning when we saw the methods that he worked on we thought it's very hard," Fabregas told Chelsea TV at a Carabao event.

"We felt sometimes he was a little bit too demanding - we thought at the time - but I think it paid off. He put everyone into shape really fast.

"We are training every single day [on] tactics which we didn't do as much - maybe with Jose a little bit more in the first year - but every day repeating what he [Conte] wants.

"It's a big compliment for him to be able to achieve this so fast," the Spaniard added.

Chelsea have dropped points on just three occasions since Conte's formation alteration, with Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino the only manager to get the better of his rival's three-man defensive system.

The Blues currently have 69 points on the board and could set a new record points tally (95) for the Premier League era if their stellar form continues during the run-in.

Meanwhile, Standard Sport understands Conte is currently in talks over an extension to the initial three-year contract he signed last summer.

Chelsea want to reward their manager with fresh terms as a reward for his superb first season in English football.

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