New Delhi: Chelsea had their fair share of initial struggles soon after Italian manager Antonio Conte took charge of the Blues. But since the team's transition into the 3-4-3 formation, the London club has witnessed a scintillating late-year burst of form. Currently placed at the top of Premier League standings, Conte's Chelsea will arguable face their sternest test till date as they visit the Etihad stadium to face Pep Guardiola`s Manchester City.
After a resolute 2-1 win over Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge last weekend, the Blues have gone on to win their last seven league games, which is their best run since 2010.
The Citizen's early-season momentum might have faded away as competitions like the Champions League and EFL Cup came along, they still are unbeaten at home under Guardiola and will temporarily jump to the top of the table with a win on Saturday, which might stay beyond this weekend if second placed Liverpool fail to win their clash with Bournemouth.
Speaking about the daunting trip to Etihad, Conte said "Its a big test because Man City are a fantastic team," as quoted by news agency AFP.
"Now we are a different team to two months ago. It would have been very difficult to win the Tottenham game if we were the same team as two months ago."
As the 2016-17 season began, Man City came out winning their opening six fixtures, while Chelsea were reeling from successive losses to Liverpool and Arsenal.
Pep Guardiola's side's 2-0 defeat at Spurs revealed meant that the Spanish boss has a lot more work in progress. The Citizens might have won their three subsequent away games but have drawn their last three home matches.
Should the Blues win at the Etihad Stadium, it will be the first time they have won eight successive league matches in the same season since a run of nine back-to-back wins between January and April 2007.
Saturday`s encounter has also been labeled as a shootout between top strikers Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa, as the latter tops the Premier League scoring charts with 10 goals apiece.
Conte has been consistent in picking Chelsea's team for the last few fixtures, with the same XI making the cut in last six outings.
Same statement cannot be made about Guardiola has been mixing players and tactics regularly considering his club's representation in Europe too.
The highly contrasting difference between the two managers' approach can be understood considering the fact that no manager has made fewer changes to his starting XI than the seven made by Conte. No manager has made more changes than the 40 made by Guardiola.
While City have recorded just two clean sheets in 16 league games, their transition to Guardiola's possession-based philosophy is still under way, Chelsea have been rock solid and went 600 minutes without conceding a goal before Christian Eriksen`s blistering shot put Spurs ahead at Stamford Bridge last weekend.