Conte unapologetic as rampant Chelsea hunt 14th win at Spurs
Chelsea have played their Christmas fixtures over ten days, but complaints are only because they are top of the table says Italian boss
Chelsea play the final fixture of the Christmas period against Spurs tonight, with manager Antonio Conte claiming that rival managers are "jealous" of his team's position at the top of the table.
The Blues are five points clear of second-placed Liverpool and will stretch that lead to eight if they can win their 14th match in a row at White Hart Lane and set a new record for consecutive wins in a single season.
However, there have been grumblings over Chelsea's Christmas schedule, during which they have not left the capital.
"Manchester United played three matches in eight days after Christmas and Liverpool were in action three times in seven, while Chelsea's three games have been spread over ten days," says The Times. "Chelsea have also had a day more than Spurs to prepare for tonight's game."
It's against that backdrop that Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino – the managers of Liverpool, United and Spurs – have "raised concerns", says the Daily Mail.
Conte has shrugged off the complaints, pointing out that Chelsea played three times in a week before Christmas. "I think they are angry for our position not for the fixture," he said ahead of the Spurs game. "I can only reply that I didn't do the fixtures."
The Chelsea boss also said that winning 14 straight matches would be a "great achievement", but insisted that was not his team's goal.
Conte "does not do contentedness; at least, not halfway through a season," notes David Hytner of The Guardian. "He is pleased Chelsea have won 13 on the spin to put themselves clear at the top... But what stuck in the mind from Conte's briefing with the media was how he saw the wins mainly for the points they have provided."
Whether or not Chelsea add to their tally tonight remains to be seen. Mark Lawrenson of the BBC believes Spurs "will halt the Chelsea surge" while Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph has identified four ways for Tottenham to get the better of the league leaders.
They include stopping Diego Costa by employing a three-man defence, using that formation to allow Kyle Walker and Danny Rose to attack with pace down the flanks, closing down David Luiz in the Chelsea rearguard and pressuring Gary Cahill and Marcos Alonso on the Blues left flank.