Chelsea boss Conte warns of ‘very difficult period’

Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea that they cannot afford to let their standards slip during a vital few weeks in the title race.

The Blues have won nine Premier League matches in a row, with Sunday’s 1-0 victory against West Brom taking them back to the top of the table, three points clear of second-placed Arsenal.

Their busy December continues with an away match against Sunderland on Wednesday.

And boss Conte said: “It is important to be focused because this is a very important period.

“The Christmas period is very difficult for all teams and it’s important to be focused and to play football with a good intensity.

“We have played only 15 games and we must continue in this way, with the players showing real commitment.”

Conte is also hopeful that Diego Costa will get through the month without picking up the yellow card that would see the Chelsea striker have to serve a one-match ban.