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chelsea on top- ‘great surprise’Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte says Chelsea’s run to the top of the Premier League is ‘a great surprise’ as he claims winning 10 games in a row has made life easier for Crystal Palace this weekend

Chelsea’s 10-game winning streak and rapid rise to the top of the Premier League has been a ‘great surprise’, according to Antonio Conte.

The Stamford Bridge manager has revealed his shock at how quickly his plans have come to fruition this season as he prepares for the trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The west London outfit have collected 30 points from a possible 30 in a run that stretches back to October 1 and have a six-point lead over Arsenal at the summit.

For Conte, it has all come a little out of the blue. ‘We started without great ambition and this season is very difficult for us,’ he said.

‘We have been working very well and I think we are a great surprise for many people. ‘It is important to continue to be this great surprise.’The former Italy manager arrived at Chelsea in the summer tasked with challenging for a top-four finish following the dismal 2015-16 campaign which saw them loitering in midstable. But he’s turned fortunes around and a title charge is on.

‘When you arrive after a 10th-place finish in the last season and change manager and try to bring a new idea, a new method, a new idea of football… it’s not easy,’ Conte said.

‘You need time to work, to improve. In our path there was a difficult moment when we conceded two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal and then we started to work and to find the right way for us. Conte is cautious of getting carried away by his side’s form.

Palace entertain the Blues having won just once in 10 outings and their manager, Alan Pardew, has suggested Chelsea are ‘unbeatable’ but Conte believes the Eagles will raise their game when they face his team.

‘In the world there aren’t teams who are unbeatable and for us it’s very difficult when you play against another team who has nothing to lose,’ he said. ‘When you arrive from 10 wins, at minimum there is a great respect for you.

‘But this situation is a good situation for the opponent because now they have nothing to lose.’