Antonio Conte lamented the lack of "personality" in Chelsea's performance after they slipped nine points behind Manchester City with a 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace.
The Italian manager admitted Chelsea have a "difficult" task in overtaking Manchester City following the loss at Selhurst Park, that has left the Premier League champions nine points behind Pep Guardiola's side, who thrashed Stoke City 7-2 at the Etihad Stadium.
And the former Juventus manager cited the lack of personality as a major reason for the loss, as reported by ESPN.
"I think that today was a difficult game for us," Conte said. "When you play against Palace away you need more personality, otherwise you allow your opponent to take confidence. We conceded, came back but then we conceded another. It was a bad game for us."
An own goal from Cesar Azpilicueta and Wilfried Zaha's second-half strike condemned Chelsea to their third Premier League loss of the season at Selhurst Park, as Palace registered their first goals and points of the campaign.
Chelsea were lacklustre in the absence of the injured Alvaro Morata and N'Golo Kante, and Conte admitted that the Premier League champions had struggled to find "balance" without two of their key players, according to the Metro.
Chelsea's defeat was compounded by another injury as Victor Moses left the pitch after just 40 minutes with a suspected hamstring problem, but the Blues manager insisted his team cannot hide behind their injury problems, even though he did indicate that loss of key players played an important part in their defeat.
"This moment is very difficult for us," he admitted. "When you start the game without Morata and Kante it is not simple. Then another important player gets an injury like Moses. I hope to have him [back] very soon.
"To lose a player like Kante is not simple. He is able to cover a lot of the pitch. I have to think and find a different solution. The balance is important if you want to win. For sure today our balance was poor."
"In this moment it is very difficult. We lose three or four players and it is a big problem, but despite this we have to find the will to fight." he said, as reported by the Express.
Chelsea are seven points behind Manchester United, who drew with Liverpool, but Jose Mourinho's side Asked if he is concerned by the points gap building between Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, Conte told Sky Sports: "I think we have to go game by game."