Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte is welcoming the pressure of being top of the Premier League, insisting his team can deal with it.
Conte’s men are on a stunning 11-match winning run in the league, seeing them open up a six-point lead atop the table.
The Italian is happy for his team to be frontrunners in the second half of the campaign, saying it was a position no one expected them to be in.
“It’s good to stay in this position. I don’t trust the people when they say, ‘It’s important now to stay behind, and there’s pressure when you’re top’,” Conte said.
“I’d prefer the pressure of being top of the table. We earned this position. Now it’s important to keep it. It won’t be easy, for sure.
“I think we must have the right pressure. We all know that, now, we are doing fantastic things. If I go with my mind at the start of the season, not one person thought or forecast that Chelsea would stay top of the table, for many reasons.”
Chelsea’s next outing is a clash at home to Bournemouth on Boxing Day, as they continue the busy holiday period.
Conte, who led Juventus to three straight Serie A titles, said his players knew what it took to maintain their place atop the table.
“These players, in the past, have had the habit of staying top of the table. It’s not the first time for me or my players,” he said.
“But I prefer not to look at the table at this moment, either me or the players.
“It’s important to do that at the end of the season. For now, it’s more important to take the three points and continue to progress.”