Conte’s acid test

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

“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

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