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Monday 27 March 2017

Chelsea's focus turns quickly to Palace test

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was in no mood to allow his players to celebrate despite seeing them complete a 10-game Premier League winning streak.

The Blues eased six points clear of Liverpool and Arsenal at the top of the table as a result of their 1-0 victory at Sunderland on Wednesday evening, and are guaranteed to lead the pack at Christmas.

However, Conte was already turning his mind to tomorrow's clash with Crystal Palace within minutes of the final whistle.

He said: "I am pleased for my players because they deserve this for their commitment and work-rate every day, in every training session, during the game.

"Now for sure we have to continue. On Saturday, we will have another tough game against Crystal Palace. I hope we recover very well after this battle to try to arrive at Christmas in an incredible position in the table.

"I prefer not to look at the table, I prefer this for me, for my players because we are doing something important until now, but the league didn't finish today.

"We are on top of the table, but there are still three games to end the first part of the season and then 19 games. This league is very tough and I think until the end, it will be a big battle between six teams."

Victory at the Stadium of Light was secured by Cesc Fabregas' 40th-minute strike, his first league goal of the season in just his third start in the competition.

However, a dogged Sunderland might have emerged with a point had keeper Thibaut Courtois not denied Adnan Januzaj shortly after the break and then Patrick van Aanholt deep into stoppage time at the end of the game.

Palace slipped to a seventh defeat in nine Premier League games with defeat to Manchester United on Wednesday - but Scott Dann is backing the Eagles to end Chelsea's winning streak.

"They will be coming here on the back of 10 wins and hopefully we can be the team that turns them over and stops that run. That is exactly what we will try and do.

"We have a great set of fans here who make for an amazing atmosphere so come Saturday hopefully they can help us get the right result. Chelsea have been playing really well, they are a tough, well-organised team and seem to be going from strength to strength.

"But every game in this league is difficult and hopefully we can put in more of a performance similar to United."

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