This is the kind of result to stifle talk of crisis at Chelsea. The Premier League’s summit may remain distant but the joyous din which erupted inside this arena at the final whistle was an outpouring of relief. Antonio Conte celebrated manically, fists raised in triumph towards those in the upper tier of the East stand, before striding out on to the turf to acknowledge each side of the ground in turn. José Mourinho waited near the tunnel to shake his counterpart’s hand but eventually gave up. He looked distinctly unimpressed to be enduring Conte’s moment.
It may feel vaguely ludicrous that a head coach who has now overseen 37 wins from his 49 Premier League games in charge could ever be considered under pressure, but Conte had needed this victory. That humiliation in Rome in midweek had left him embattled, with suggestions the hierarchy had not taken kindly to the realism with which he has approached a cluttered campaign, and the first murmurings of discontent within the playing squad surfacing with every setback.