Gianfranco Zola surprised by speed of improvement at Chelsea under Antonio Conte
By SSN HQ
Last Updated: 30/11/16 9:27am
Gianfranco Zola admits he has been surprised by the rapid improvement at Chelsea under Antonio Conte, although he concedes they are benefiting from not playing in Europe.
Saturday's 2-1 win over Tottenham propelled Conte's side to the top of the Premier League - one point clear of Liverpool and Manchester City after 13 games - having laboured to a 10th-place finish under Jose Mourinho and then Guus Hiddink last season.
Zola, who made 229 appearances for the Blues between 1996 and 2003, expected Conte to turn the club's fortunes around, but has been impressed by how quickly he has been able to make his mark in west London.
"I know how Antonio works, how good he is. To see the work flourishing so quickly is a surprise but it's all down to the work he does and his ability as a coach," he told Sky Sports News HQ. "He deserves it.
"(Not playing in Europe) is an advantage, certainly, because there are teams who have more games, but that's not a guarantee.
"You need to work hard to win the league because there five or six teams who have the credentials to do that. They have to keep performing the way they are doing and if they do that they stand a good chance."