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Thursday 23 February 2017

Conte seeks to lay title marker at City

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea's Premier League game at Manchester City is a good chance to show they have rediscovered their best form following last season's problems, manager Antonio Conte said.

Chelsea, who finished 10th in May, retained their place at the summit with a seventh successive league victory over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend ahead of the trip to third-placed City on Saturday.

"I think tomorrow it's a really tough game. It is a great test for us, for our formation, to continue this way," Conte said.

"We know that it won't be easy because tomorrow we face a really great team, with a great idea of football. I think tomorrow is another step to show if something has changed compared to the start of the season."

Chelsea have scored 19 goals and conceded just one during their winning run and Conte is unlikely to make changes to his starting line-up at the Etihad Stadium.

"I'm pleased for all the players that are playing. Those on the bench understand. There is the right atmosphere," the Italian added.

City's Kevin De Bruyne, who left Chelsea in 2014, has emerged as one of the world's finest attacking midfielders since falling out of favour with then-manager Jose Mourinho.

"He's a great player. It's a pity now he is playing for another team because he's a fantastic player. I wish for him the best... after our game," Conte said.

Media reported that Chelsea's Steve Holland is wanted by manager Gareth Southgate as part of England's backroom set-up and Conte said was happy with his assistant's commitment amid speculation.

"The situation is very clear. Steve is one of my assistant coaches and working very well. He is working for Chelsea for many years. I'm very happy for his commitment, attitude and work rate," Conte said.

"I don't know what happens in the future. This matter is for the FA. But now I am pleased to have him."

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