LONDON -- Antonio Conte admitted that winning the Premier League title again with Chelsea this season will be harder than retaining Serie A with Juventus after watching his team lose 1-0 at home to rivals Manchester City.
Kevin De Bruyne's strike in the 67th minute proved the difference between the sides on Saturday but City comprehensively outplayed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, increasing their possession and territorial dominance after Alvaro Morata was forced off with a hamstring injury on 35 minutes.
The result leaves Chelsea six points adrift of both City and Manchester United after seven Premier League matches, having already lost as many times at home (twice) as they did in the whole of last season.
Having won the Serie A title in each of his three seasons as Juventus coach, Conte knows what it takes to achieve sustained league success but he believes the vast sums spent by both Manchester clubs this summer make the feat more difficult to repeat in England.
"It was completely different," he said of his experience in Italy. "Juventus won the title against a really strong team like AC Milan [in 2011-12] but then the next summer they sold Thiago Silva and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic [to Paris Saint-Germain]. They were weaker. It was not simple but easier [to win it again]. Here if you compare last season to this season, you can see the big teams have got bigger.
"Last season was a great satisfaction because don't forget the year before we finished 10th and then we won the title and reached the FA Cup final. Last season was fantastic. This season we have to try to do our best and have great satisfaction. It won't be easy but last season wasn't easy either."
Conte also defended his decision to deploy Cesar Azpilicueta at right wing-back while benching Victor Moses, suggesting that Morata's injury underlines the risk involved in exposing his players to a lot of matches in a short space of time.
"Morata played three games in seven days and got injured," he explained. "It's not simple for our wing-backs. Moses played two games against Stoke and Atletico, [Marcos] Alonso one and a half because he came off early against Stoke. You have to try not to put your players in difficulty, but you also take a risk [by not playing them] because Moses is an important player for us.
"To play three games in seven days, you risk. With Morata it was the same but I made this decision to risk Morata in this game because imagine [the criticism] if I decided to put him on the bench."
No team has successfully retained the Premier League title since United did it in 2008-09 and while Chelsea's attitude was roundly criticised the last time they approached a campaign as defending champions in 2015-16, Conte insisted that he has no doubts about his players' hunger this time around.
"I see my players every day and I am proud to be the coach of these players," he added. "I see their commitment in every training session and during the game. I must be pleased with this. For sure to defend the title is very difficult and for every team to win the league. The past shows it is very difficult to win two titles in a row [in England]."