Manager delighted as Chelsea moves to top of ladder
FOOTBALL: Chelsea may have won "in a different way”, but the Blues' victory over Middlesborough again showcased a side defensively at the top of their game.
Chelsea displaced Liverpool at the top of the English Premier League table with a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough.
The Blues are now on 28 points from 12 games, one point ahead of Liverpool and Manchester City.
It was the London outfit's sixth successive league victory without conceding a goal, following wins over Everton (5-0), Southampton (2-0), Manchester United (4-0), Leicester City (3-0) and Hull City (2-0).
"I'm pleased because today we won a game in a different way if you compare it to the last five games,” manager Antonio Conte said. "Today we won only 1-0 against a strong team with good organisation.
"I'm pleased because in the moments where we must suffer, we suffered, but we never lost our compactness.
"We created chances to score the second goal and against this team it's important to score the second goal to kill the game, because until the end anything can happen in this league.
"After two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, for sure it wasn't simple to believe (we would have) six wins in a row and without conceding any goals.
"I'm pleased for this because it's very difficult to have this success in this league. It's fantastic.”
The league's leading scorer, Diego Costa, collected his 10th goal of the season to put Chelsea in front four minutes before half-time.
"Confidence and spirit are up and we are playing well,” Chelsea defender Gary Cahill told Sky Sports.
"We are getting the results too which is the most important thing. We have carried on from where we left off at the international break.
"We are happy with today's work, but the league is not won today. It is not even Christmas yet.”
EPL LADDER: Chelsea 28, Liverpool 27, Man City 27, Arsenal 25, Tottenham 24, Man Utd 19, Everton 19, Watford 18, Bournemouth 15, Southampton 14.