Chelsea on Boxing day will look to set a new club record and confirm top spot in the Premier League for the end of 2016 when they face AFC Bournemouth at Stamford.
The Blues are targeting a landmark 12th win in a row, but they will do so without the services of their leading scorer Diego Costa and summer signing N’Golo Kante.
Beating AFC Bournemouth or picking a point at Stamford Bridge will ensure the Blues start 2017 as the pace-setters in England’s top flight, with one game to spare.
Five of the last seven teams to end the calendar year top of the league have gone on to claim the Championship – but fans of the west London club will be well aware of the fate which befell Arsenal who failed to convert their dominance at the same stage last season.
Chelsea’s success comes 12 months after Jose Mourinho was unceremoniously sacked as Chelsea manager, and even if the club cannot finish the year top of the table, the Italian has made a significant impression in England.
Chelsea’s Manager, Antonio Conte admits his squad have exceeded expectations and is now challenging them to finish the job during the second half of the campaign.
“Not one person thought or forecast that Chelsea would stay top of the table, for many reasons,” he said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
“Because the squad was the same as last season. Because our market wasn’t a great market. I think we found the right balance.
But now we are only two games away from halfway through the season. So, for this reason, we must have the right pressure. These players, in the past, have had the habit of staying top of the table.”