London - Antonio Conte's Chelsea juggernaut rolls back into
action against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday with the Premier League leaders
chasing a ninth consecutive win.
Chelsea produced the most impressive display of their
winning streak last weekend when they came from behind to win 3-1 at Pep
Guardiola's Manchester City.
They have not won nine successive league games within the
same season since 2007 and ahead of West Brom's visit, Marcos Alonso has urged
his team-mates not to let their level drop.
"Winning game after game gives you confidence, but you
have to keep working," the Spanish wing-back told the Chelsea website.
"The results give you confidence to work in this way,
though. We have got to use this momentum of the last eight league games and go
on to have another good game against West Brom now."
While most of Chelsea's title rivals have been in European
action this week, Conte's side have once again had a full week to prepare for
the visit of Tony Pulis's side.
It is 32 years since West Brom last won at Chelsea, but they
have drawn on two of their last three visits and have climbed to seventh in the
table on the back of a four-game unbeaten run.
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"(Chelsea) are on a great run of form," West Brom
manager Pulis told the club website.
"The manager's come in and he's changed things around
and got the players playing the way they can. It's a wonderful, wonderful squad
of players. But we'll go there and do our best."
Guardiola's City will look to kick their title challenge
back into gear when they visit unravelling champions Leicester City on
The ill-tempered defeat at Chelsea's hands left a mark, with
Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho picking up red cards that will keep them out
until after Christmas.
City have slipped to fourth place in the table, four points
below Chelsea, and although Leicester are toiling in 16th place, Pablo Zabaleta
is taking nothing for granted.
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"Always it's a difficult place to go. Even if they are
not doing great in the domestic competition, they are still a good team, very
competitive," said the City right-back.
"It is going to be a tough game. We need to win and get
three points after the big defeat last weekend to stay in the fight for the
While City have won their last three away matches in the
league, they have won just four of their last 14 games in all competitions as
Guardiola continues to search for a durable winning formula.
His problems pale in comparison, however, beside those of
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who saw a second-string side trounced 5-0 by
Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday.
With seven defeats already, Leicester's league form is as
alarming as last season's was astonishing and has left them just two points
above the relegation zone.
Second-place Arsenal, three points behind Chelsea, can
provisionally take over at the summit if they beat Stoke City by two goals or
more at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Alexis Sanchez's hat-trick fired Arsenal to a 5-1 win at
West Ham United last weekend, which was followed by a superb 4-1 win at Basel
in the Champions League, but manager Arsene Wenger feels there is more to come.
"I feel the team is on the way upwards," he said.
"But we have as well to show that first of all we can
improve, that we have the desire to improve as a team, and as well, that we can
repeat the performances week in, week out.
"Stoke is another challenge for us that we can reset,
refocus and continue our development and take the points."
Like Chelsea, third-place Liverpool have had a week off to
prepare for Sunday's home game with West Ham.
Manchester United, in contrast, entertain Tottenham Hotspur
on Sunday just two days after returning from a gruelling Europa League trip to
play Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk.
Jose Mourinho's side, currently sixth, trail fifth-place
Spurs by six points and will have a mountain to climb in terms of Champions
League qualification if they lose at Old Trafford.For
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