Conte’s acid test
“We are going to play against the best team at the moment in the Premier League,” he said.
“The last five or six weeks they have played amazing.
“We have to try and discover his secret and what we need to do to beat him and will prepare as best as possible.”
Former Chelsea midfielder and coach Ray Wilkins said his old club’s progress will be clearer after this weekend.
“I think this will tell Conte whether his three at the back is viable against the top, top teams,” he told Sky Sports.
Chelsea will need no reminding of City’s main threat.
Sergio Aguero scored four times against them last season, including a hattrick at Stamford Bridge, and has netted 10 goals this campaign.
Then again, Chelsea’s Diego Costa, back to the form of two seasons ago, has matched him with 10 of his own.
The Blues’ streak was preceded by back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal so they’ll be looking to avoid another slip-up against a fellow title contender.
According to Conte, they’re not the same side that suffered those defeats.
“It’s a big test because Man City are a fantastic team, but Saturday (against Spurs) was a good test for us,” Conte told the club’s website.
“Now we are a different team to two months ago. It would have been very difficult to win the Tottenham game if we were the same team as two months ago.
“I love the mentality of my players, I saw a great attitude and great commitment from all of them.”
Second-placed Liverpool (30) must wait until Sunday for their match at Bournemouth when they will try and stretch their unbeaten run to 12 League games.
The Reds are unbeaten in 11 in the League and 15 overall following a 2-0 win over Leeds in the League Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“We go now to Bournemouth – small stadium, but very intense, good team,” manager Jurgen Klopp said after that match.
“We feel good in the moment and we have to carry on. Hopefully it stays like this.”
Arsenal face a tricky trip across London when they visit West Ham.
The Gunners’ 2-0 home defeat to Bournemouth in the League Cup yesterday ended a 19-game unbeaten run overall, though they’re still without loss in 12 League matches.
“I don’t think I can moan about the momentum in the Premier League, that is important for us,” manager Arsene Wenger said.
“I knew that in the League Cup that could happen, but it’s disappointing to lose the game more than the run we have. “The run we want to keep in the Premier League.”
Tottenham hope to bounce back from their first League defeat when they host struggling Swansea while sixth-placed Manchester United visit Everton.
Crystal Palace are home to Southampton, Burnley visit Stoke, champions Leicester travel to Sunderland, West Brom take on Watford and Middlesbrough host Hull in the other games. – Reuters/ dpa
Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez (left) heads to score past Cultural Leonesa’s defender Ivan Gonzalez during yesterday’s Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) Round of 32 2nd leg match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. – AFPPIX