Chelsea look like a team without a weakness following their 11th successive Premier League victory, according to Match of the Day analyst Danny Murphy.
Diego Costa scored as the leaders won 1-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday to move nine points clear at the top.
“I can’t see one area in their team where they’re struggling at the moment,” Murphy said.
“It’s fantastic for Chelsea supporters and worrying for everyone else.”
Chelsea’s lead will be reduced by the end of the weekend, with third-placed Arsenal visiting Manchester City, in fourth, on Sunday and second-placed Liverpool contesting the Merseyside derby on Monday.
But with back-to-back home games to come against Bournemouth on Boxing Day and Stoke on 31 December, Antonio Conte’s men are well placed to enter the New Year with a commanding advantage at the head of the standings.
“They’ve got two home games coming up which they’d expect to win and that would really give them a lead,” said Murphy.
“If they can keep everyone fit they’re the favourites.”
Jermaine Jenas, also speaking on Match of the Day, added: “They’re out and out favourites right now. Teams are trying. Liverpool are probably the favourites to catch them but they have defensive issues.”
Conte finds ‘right fit’ after slow start
This latest win came a year to the day after Chelsea sacked former boss Jose Mourinho, when the club were in 16th.
Chelsea have won every league game since changing their formation after losing 3-0 at Arsenal on 24 September – and have now equalled a club record with their 11th straight Premier League win.
That defeat to Arsenal left the Blues eighth in the table, before Conte changed their system from four defenders to a back three with Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses playing as attacking wing-backs.
“The manager must be a tailor and try and find the right fit for the team,” said Conte.
“I tried a different solution before changing the formation, but the most important thing is our strong mentality.
“It wasn’t easy to arrive and quickly understand the characteristics of my players. I needed a bit of time.
“We touched different aspects to try and improve. You can bring your idea of football but if you don’t have players who follow you, it doesn’t matter.”
Following Mourinho’s sacking, seven months after Chelsea had won their fourth Premier League title, Dutch manager Guus Hiddink took charge until the end of the season and led the club to 10th.
Conte took over in July and the 11th successive victory matched the club’s effort from April to September 2009, although Arsenal hold the Premier League record with a 14-game winning run in 2002.
“The run is fantastic. Congratulations to my players, not me. I am pleased because they deserve this,” added the Italian.
“But it is important to understand we’re only at the 17th game. We must not look at the table, or at our rivals, we have to continue working hard ourselves.”
|Longest winning runs in the Premier League|
|Number of wins||Team||Date of last game|
|14||Arsenal||18 August 2002|
|12||Manchester United||20 August 2000|
|11||Manchester United||4 March 2009|
|11||Chelsea||20 September 2009|
|11||Liverpool||20 April 2014|
|11||Manchester City||12 September 2015|
|11||Chelsea||17 December 2016 (run ongoing)|