Chelsea have claimed top spot on the Premier League table with a gritty 1—0 victory over Middlesborough at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday evening.
The result means the Blues have now won six consecutive league matches without conceding a goal while scoring 17 themselves.
Antonio Conte certainly has his men firing on all cylinders for now, but a tricky run of upcoming fixtures will serve as a stern test of their title credentials.
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The new league leaders host Tottenham next weekend before taking on Manchester City at the Etihad in a clash that may prove vital come the end of the season.
But it is hard to disagree that Chelsea – arguably in the best form they have enjoyed since the 2014-15 season – are well-placed to put some distances between themselves and their title rivals.
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Mark Schwarzer – a former Chelsea and Middlesborough player – believes the west Londoners’ triumph in North Yorkshire confirms they can outplay anyone at this point.
Speaking as a pundit for Sky Sports, as per the Daily Mail, Schwarzer said: “They are two games where Chelsea, I think, go in as favourites to win both of those games on current form.
“Definitely they are favourites for the first one against Tottenham, but against City, they are playing team who are not doing as well as they were at the start of the season. Chelsea are the team to beat at the moment, their form speaks for itself.
“Of course it is going to be a different game when you go to Manchester City, the rivalry between them, two teams vying for the title, the record generally doesn't come into play.
“At the moment, Chelsea will have the most confidence going into those games.”
Conte has settled on employing his famed 3-4-3 formation after experimenting with numerous other tactical approaches in the earlier stages of his tenure.
Despite the Italian seemingly lacking the specialist players required to operate in such a system, Schwarzer says the squad has adapted to the system remarkably well.
“They just look very comfortable, defensively they have a great understanding. The formation with Azpilicueta on the right, David Luiz and Gary Cahill as well, I think they have all settled in very nicely.
“Alonso has slotted in very well at left back, the surprise I suppose is Moses at right wing back, but he is able to do that because he has the extra cover.
“Chelsea were not at their best against Boro, but they are comfortable with the system, everyone knows where they are supposed to be. When games are not going to plan, they slot into position and grind out a result.”
Only time will tell how long the Blues can maintain their scintillating form, but there is no question few teams would fancy their chances against them right now.
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