Antonio Conte accepts race is back on after Chelsea's surprise defeat against Crystal Palace

Chelsea 1 Crystal Palace 2

Antonio Conte accepts race is back on after Chelsea's surprise defeat against Crystal Palace

A similar display when Manchester City visit on Wednesday and a chink of light could become a window of opportunity for their rivals.

Antonio Conte understandably remained calm after defeat to a side revived under Sam Allardyce, and why shouldn’t he?

With a still formidable seven-point lead and just nine games remaining, it would take a remarkable collapse to prevent the title returning to west London.

For once, though, Conte’s side looked less than water-tight at the back, the bedrock of their success this season, and having witnessed the damage wreaked by the excellent Wilfried Zaha on his team, the Italian will undoubtedly harbour some concerns about the attacking threat presented by Pep Guardiola’s side.

Gary Cahill, the Chelsea centre-back, conceded Wednesday’s game will be accompanied by additional pressure.

“There’s no point shying away from that,” said the England international.

“If we’d got the result against Crystal Palace it would have eased the pressure but not getting the result adds to the pressure.

“We’re disappointed but it’s a time to stay calm, re-focus and go again. Things have been going very well for us this season the majority of the time but it wasn’t to be.”

Conte conceded the result had given new life to a title race that had turned into a procession and admitted to a growing concern about his side’s inability to keep a clean sheet since January.

“The stats are always important and I know this,” said the Chelsea head coach.

“But sometimes we concede a goal against Arsenal, West Ham when the game was finished. And against Stoke City we conceded a penalty.”

He remains convinced, however, his players can cope with whatever the run-in throws at them.

“It’s normal when you are at a great club and you are very good and also you are lucky to fight for the title there is pressure,” he said. “Not for us but for a lot of teams. Don’t forget the other teams were candidates to win the title and instead we have stayed up the table. If you are able to keep this position it means that we deserve it.

Conte’s side appeared on course for another routine victory when Cesc Fabregas turned home Eden Hazard’s fifth-minute cross.

The Palace side that dropped into the bottom three would have wilted at that point but Allardyce has added steel to the side and they were level four minutes later thanks to a fine individual finish from Zaha.

Two minutes later the visitors were ahead through Christian Benteke and while Chelsea’s response was relentless, for once Hazard’s trickery and Diego Costa’s power were nullified.

Palace have now won four successive games and while they remain just four points above the relegation zone, they carry the look of a team capable of staying up, especially with Zaha in this kind of form.

“At the moment he is playing outstanding football for us and in the Premier League it is the hardest place to perform consistently, because it’s such a competitive league,” said Allardyce. “And to perform like that against the best defence in the league is obviously something that everybody will take notice of.”

CHELSEA (3-4-3): Courtois 6; Azpilicueta 6, Luiz 6, Cahill 6; Pedro 5, Kante 7, Matic 6 (Willian 59, 6), Alonso 5 (Batshuayi 74, 6); Fabregas 7 (Loftus-Cheek 90), Costa 6, Hazard 6

Subs: Begovic, Zouma, Chalobah, Terry

CRYSTAL PALACE (4-2-3-1): Hennessey 9; Ward 8, Tomkins 7 (Dann 46 6, Delaney 59 7), Sakho 8, Schlupp 7; Milivojevic 8, Cabaye 7; Zaha 9, Puncheon 7, Townsend 6 (Kelly 59, 7); Benteke 8.

Subs: Speroni, Ledley, Kaikai, Sako.

Referee: C Pawson 6

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