Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has warned his side to be wary of Martin O’Neill’s resurgent Sunderland.
The Stamford Bridge boss was full of praise for the Northern Irishman and the effect he has had since he took over the Wearsiders.
Villas-Boas is aware of the potential upset that could befall The Blues if they do not take the Black Cats’ challenge seriously.
“It is a fantastic run of form for Sunderland and Martin has had the right impact,” the Portuguese told reporters.
“He is one of the top managers in the game with tremendous success in this country and in Scotland.
“What is a significant difference is that a team that was so low in motivation and self-belief managed to get themselves together to beat the league leaders and to go on a run to inspire everybody.
“That makes them feel even more confident to take on opposition. Based on that fact they are more a threat because of their motivation, which is a big, big difference.”
The former Porto manager was also unsurprised at the success Tottenham have had in moving to just three points behind leaders Manchester City.
Villas-Boas also suggested the gap is not as big as people were suggesting and said his side were quite capable of closing in on the top three.
“We were expecting Tottenham to win that game for quite some time," said the Blues boss.
“Three teams so close to together above us means a couple of them can lose points considering the recent results. Anything can happen and eight points is a distance you can shorten.
“Now we have a job to do and to prove the others they are wrong we have to prove it on the pitch, not with words.
“We have exhausted ourselves in words and it is time to get a run of victories to get our title challenge together.”
Chelsea’s next chance to prove their manager’s words claims will be at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.