Date published: Thursday 15th December 2016 7:00
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 Saturday’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. In three days 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.
Good morning! Six points clear… pic.twitter.com/k5WvlCFNxH
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 15, 2016
“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.
Black Cats manager David Moyes said: “Coming off the pitch, we could come off saying we had a right go to try to have a go at a top team. The goalkeeper made two great saves, the first one as well.
“Obviously the second one will get all the plaudits because of the type it was, but I thought we got better in the second half and we finished the game quite strongly.
“But we just didn’t have enough to get something out of the game.”