Chelsea won their 11th straight match, so who will stop the Premier League leaders?
Chelsea churned out another 1-0 win on Saturday, pushing their Premier League winning streak to 11 consecutive matches. It wasn't pretty by any means, but it got the job done. Crystal Palace gave it a go against the league leaders, but ultimately Chelsea found a way to prevail.
Palace arguably had a better first half than Chelsea, until Diego Costa popped up just before halftime to break the deadlock. With their vise grip defense to lean on in the second half, Costa's goal proved to be enough.
Their third consecutive 1-0 win, Chelsea are showing they can win ugly. Throughout this 11-match Premier League winning streak, the longest in club history, the Blues have conceded just two goals. One of those belonged to Gary Cahill. Antonio Conte's men have won in blowouts, and they've won in slugfests. The question now is: Who can stop the Blues?
The congested festive schedule shook out kindly for Chelsea. Their Boxing Day match is a home tilt against Bournemouth, who sit smack dab in the middle of table going into matchday 17. The Cherries are balanced but have just one win away from home. A big factor in Bournemouth's favor: Chelsea's lineup issues.
A yellow card apiece in Saturday's match against Palace will leave the Blues without Diego Costa and N'Golo Kante due to accumulation. Costa's match-winner pushed him back atop the EPL's scoring charts, while Kante's relentlessness in midfield is darn near irreplaceable. Even so, a Christmas rest for the duo could actually benefit Chelsea assuming their backups can get the job done against Bournemouth, which they should.
After Bournemouth are Stoke, visiting Stamford Bridge on New Year's Eve. The Potters are a far more stern test than Bournemouth, but one has to imagine Costa will be eager to get back into the scoring stride. And Kante getting a chance to recharge his endless batteries? Good luck.
The party bus could very well stop at White Hart Lane on Jan. 4, at the hands of Spurs. Tottenham took their place in the firing line already during Chelsea's streak and will be thirsty for revenge. Should Spurs fail, it'd be up the floundering defending champions, Leicester City, to do the deed on Jan. 14. Hull follow Leicester, and unless Santa delivers the Tigers a team full of Lionel Messis and Cristiano Ronaldos for Christmas, it's not going to happen.
Back-to-back battles against Liverpool and Arsenal on Jan. 31 and Feb. 4, respectively, should be where the run ends, if it hadn't already. In all honestly, making it to those matchdays still rolling would be insane. Making it beyond them would be unthinkable. Still, it's impossible to predict the future, but it's hard to see the Chelsea steamroller stopping anytime soon.
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