Football

Chelsea hope for City slip-up

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has admitted that there is little other Premier League title hopefuls can do but hope for leaders Manchester City to slip up.

City's splendid start to the season has seen them win all but one of their 14 league matches, a sequence that sees them lead closest rivals Manchester United by five points, although they could stretch the advantage to eight with a home win over strugglers West Ham United this morning (Singapore time).

Defending champions Chelsea have recently got into the groove as well, having dropped only two points in their last seven league outings, but will see the gap between themselves and City restored to 11 points if City beat the Hammers as expected.

Fabregas, whose side beat Newcastle 3-1 on Saturday, told ChelseaTV: "It is important to get the win.

"We needed to win before the top teams played and it was an important three points.

"It is still a long way to go and that is why we have to hope Manchester City will slip up and we will manage to put some pressure on them.

"They are there because they deserve it and our job is just to keep going and see what happens at the top."

Likewise, there was an air of resignation about Chelsea manager Antonio Conte when he spoke to reporters after seeing his team come back from a goal down to beat Newcastle 3-1.

Dwight Gayle had given the Magpies a 12th-minute lead at the Stamford Bridge, before the hosts fought back courtesy of two goals from the impressive Eden Hazard either side of a headed effort from Alvaro Morata.

Said Conte: "I am happy, but you know very well that there is a team in this league that is doing extraordinary things and it's Manchester City. Otherwise, I think we are staying up there with the other teams."

Despite the Blues' pessimism, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez believes that they have lost to a side destined to finish in the top three.

Said the Spaniard, who won the 2012/13 Europa League with Chelsea during his spell as interim manager: "Chelsea have a lot of good things. They have to compete for the title.

"It is obvious that they are one of the teams that will be there in the top three, but we began well and it was a pity that we couldn't keep the lead for a while.

"It's not a problem of confidence with my team, it's a problem of the level of the Premier League." - WIRE SERVICES

Football