Chelsea cannot be considered Premier League title favourites because they suffered defeats to rivals Arsenal and Liverpool, according to manager Antonio Conte.
The Blues went top of the table and made it six wins and six clean sheets in a row with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough on Sunday.
But despite their current position and excellent form, Conte refused to agree when asked in his post-match press conference whether his side are now title favourites.
“Now it’s very difficult to reply to this because if you see the recent past, only one and a half months ago, you see that Chelsea had two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal,” he said.
“After these two games, Chelsea wasn’t a favourite or a team that could fight for the title until the end. Now it’s very difficult to change completely that opinion.
“I think we are working very well. I am pleased because in this league, it is very difficult to have this success and to win these six games in a row is fantastic.
“But if you ask me what is our target now, I repeat it is very difficult to tell you this. I want to wait until the end of the first part of the championship.”
Before their switch to a 3-4-3 formation, the Blues suffered a 2-1 loss to Liverpool and a 3-0 thrashing to Arsenal in September.
Diego Costa scored the game’s only goal at the Riverside, reacting quickest to a loose ball from a corner to volley in his 10th Premier League goal of the season.
Chelsea had further chances, but Victor Valdes saved well from Marcos Alonso and Pedro, while the Spaniard also struck the bar.
Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Southampton on Saturday meant the win was enough to see Chelsea leapfrog Jurgen Klopp’s side to reach the summit of the league for the first time this season.
Conte faces a stern test next with unbeaten Tottenham the next opponent on the league schedule.
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