High-fly­ing Chelsea face City test

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

CHELSEA’S re­nais­sance un­der An­to­nio Conte comes un­der re­newed scru­tiny when the Pre­mier League lead­ers visit Manch­ester City this week­end on the back of a seven-match win­ning streak.

Only one point sep­a­rates the two sides with Chelsea on 31 and City on 30 but Conte’s im­pact at Stam­ford Bridge ap­pears greater than his City coun­ter­part Pep Guardi­ola’s at the Eti­had. That is largely due to the con­trast from last sea­son. Chelsea are 17 points bet­ter off than they were at this stage last sea­son in the fi­nal days of Jose Mour­inho, while City have four more than af­ter 13 games un­der Manuel Pellegrini.

The goal Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur scored in a 2-1 de­feat at Stam­ford Bridge on Satur­day was the only one Chelsea have con­ceded in the last seven matches as Conte’s 3-4-3 sys­tem con­tin­ues to flour­ish.

City, af­ter a run­away start, have not been fir­ing on all cylin­ders of late, ek­ing out nar­row wins over Crys­tal Palace and Burn­ley, and for­mer Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich boss Guardi­ola ac­cepts Chelsea are set­ting the stan­dard.

“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 Skyy Sports.

Chelsea will need no re­mind­ing g of City’s main threat.

Ser­gio Aguero scored four times again­st­gainst them last sea­son, in­clud­ing a hat-trick at Stam­ford am­ford Bridge, and has net­ted 10 goals this cam­paign. n. Then again, Chelsea’s Diego Costa, back to thee form of two sea­sons ago, has matched him with 10 of his own.

Sec­ond-placed Liver­pool (30) must wait un­til Sun­day for their match at Bournemouthouth when they will try and stretch their un­beat­en­ten run to 12 league games.

Fourth-placed Arse­nal (28) facece a tricky Lon­don derby at West Ham United to­mor­row evening where crowd be­hav­iour will be un­der the spot­light af­ter the Ham­mers’ last derby at their new Lon­don Sta­dium, against Chelsea, was marred by ugly scenes.

Tot­ten­ham have slipped off the pace af­ter their sea­son-long un­beaten run was ended by Chelsea but will hope to get back to win­ning ways at home to strug­gling Swansea City.

Sixth-placedp Manch­ester United are at Ever­ton. — BBC Sport

Conor McGre­gor

Pep Guardi­ola An­to­nio Conte

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