Guardiola and Conte battle for Premier League leadership

Antonio Conte's Chelsea have won seven successive games to lead the English Premier League.
Antonio Conte's Chelsea have won seven successive games to lead the English Premier League. euters/Tony O'Brien

Two of the Premier League's newest managers - Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte - go head to head on Saturday as third placed Manchester City host pacesetters Chelsea.


Guardiola took over at City last summer after three years at Bayern Munich where he won consecutive Bundesliga titles as well as two German Cups, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup. Before that he was at the head of a Barcelona winning machine.

Conte assumed the reins at Chelsea at the same time following a successful stint as manager of the Italy national team. His start at Stamford Bridge following last season's pyrotechnics with Jose Mourinho was sober. There were solid if not spectacular wins against the likes of West Ham, Watford and Burnley. A draw against Swansea City in the fourth game of the campaign left Chelsea in second. 

Eyebrows started to rise and the vultures started to swirl following a home defeat against Liverpool and a 3-0 pummelling at Arsenal. Those results left the 2015 champions in eighth place after six games - eight points off Guardiola's pacesetters.

But from that slough of despond, a dazzling surge has lifted the Blues. Chelsea have risen to top spot following seven successive victories. The defence has only been breached once - during the 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on 26 November - while 19 goals have been scored. Spain international Diego Costa has struck 10 times during the run.

"City is a really great team with great players, but we want to show we are working very well," Conte said on the eve of the clash. "The match against them is another step to show us if something is changing compared to the start of the season."

Should Chelsea prevail at the Etihad Stadium, it will be the first time they have triumphed in eight successive league matches within the same season since a sequence of nine between January and April 2007.

City - who face Celtic in their final Group C game of the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday - will go top with a win for at least 24 hours as second placed Liverpool travel to Bournemouth on Sunday.

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