Chelsea’s title rivals will have been ‘spooked’ by the manner in which the Blues disposed of Tottenham in their latest Premier League outing, claims Pat Nevin.
Antonio Conte’s side are in the fearsome run of form at present, and occupy a lofty perch at the top-flight summit as a result.
Seven straight wins have carried them to the front of the title race, with Liverpool their closest challengers a point off the pace.
With only three points separating the top four there is still all to play for, but Chelsea have been ominously impressive in recent weeks.
Even when short of their best against Spurs, they had enough in the tank to hit back from a goal down and take the spoils.
Nevin believes that performance put down a marker to the rest of the division, with Conte having concocted a formula that allows his side to dominate on the front foot, before closing games out in ‘chilling’ fashion.
“What would have spooked the other teams watching was not only getting three points against close rivals when we played below par, but that our manager has got into a little habit of closing out games ruthlessly when we are ahead,” Nevin wrote in his column for Chelsea’s official website.
“It was very apparent against Southampton but more so against Spurs. The introduction of Branislav Ivanovic near the end while dropping [Marcos] Alonso deeper to make it a monumental-looking back five, is a pretty chilling sight for any forward.
“Not many goals will be scored against those personnel and that formation, with two sitting midfielders in front of it and Thibaut Courtois behind! It looked like an almighty door being slammed shut on Tottenham’s ambitions when the boss made that move, and very Italian.”
Chelsea have been particularly imposing at the back of late, with Christian Eriksen’s opener at Stamford Bridge on Saturday bringing to an end a 601-minute run without being breached.
Conte will be looking for his side to be similarly stingy in their next outing, with the Blues’ title credentials set to be given another stern examination by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.