Chelsea legend Frank Lampard says Antonio Conte’s current crop is the Premier League’s “dominant team” in the title race.
The Blues have marched to the top of the Premier League on the back of an 11-game winning run, in which they have conceded just twice.
Conte’s side will be top of the tree at Christmas, with Chelsea having won each time they have previously been in first place on December 25.
And three-time Premier League winner Lampard has paid tribute to Conte, as well as his 3-4-3 formation.
Lampard told Sky Sports: “As a Chelsea man it is great to see, all credit to everybody there.
“The manager obviously changed the system after a defeat at Arsenal.
“Nobody would have fancied them to be anywhere near winning the league at that point and now they look the dominant team.
“I don’t like to tempt fate but I can’t see anyone who has got the consistency to close the gap, so I fancy Chelsea strongly now.”
Lampard believes the improved form of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard will prove crucial in the Blues’ attempts to pull clear of the chasing pack.
“[Manchester] City are in a decent position,” Lampard added. “And there are teams with quality for sure – City, I think Liverpool are very good to watch this year, and Arsenal.
“I think those will be the group chasing but with Chelsea, when you take that kind of a gap into Christmas, I think barring suspensions or injuries to top players like Hazard and Costa, I fancy them to carry it through.
“[Costa] is the form player in the league. I watched him first-hand last week against West Brom. It was a tight game and he was the difference.
“He is really on his game and has got everything as a striker. He can finish, he is strong, he keeps going, and I am really enjoying watching him play. The link-up between him and Hazard has been a bit special.”