Chelsea manager Antonio Conte hailed the work-rate and professionalism of his players after they recorded their tenth successive victory to move six points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Conte insisted it is too early to consider his side favorites to reclaim the title they won in 2015, but he did heap praise on a squad he took over in the summer.
Cesc Fabregas’ first goal of the campaign in just his third start was enough for victory at Sunderland, despite a dominant display from Conte’s side. Indeed Chelsea needed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to produce an excellent save three minutes into injury-time at the game’s death to cement their win.
Sunderland failed to stem Chelsea’s impressive title bid but can take heart from an encouraging effort in a 1-0 home defeat. In the end, an unmistakable gap in quality counted, but home supporters are entitled to feel their team’s committed display merited the equalizer that was prevented only by a terrific Thibaut Courtois save from Patrick van Aanholt’s shot in the dying seconds.
The winning goal had its origins in defensive frailty, with Billy Jones’ poor pass to John O’Shea easily cut out to start a slick Chelsea move. And the visitors enjoyed ample possession that should have led to more goals. 7 — Moyes fielded the best team available to him and should not be criticized because top-of-the-table proved too strong for bottom-of-the-table. If the manager can inspire his players to take pride in honourable defeat and overcome Watford at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, a rise from the relegation zone will still seem attainable.
— Avinash (@sports_drct) December 15, 2016
— Chelsea FC News (@ChelseaFC016) December 15, 2016
— Chelsea Europe (@Chelsea_EU_) December 15, 2016
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 15, 2016