Football

Chelsea are ready to strike if either Manchester City or Manchester United slip up – Cesar Azpilicueta

Cesar Azpilicueta says Chelsea are ready to seize upon dropped points this weekend by the two Manchester clubs.

The current Premier League champions find themselves 11 points off the pace in the title race with Manchester City setting a ferocious early gallop.

Chelsea play West Ham United in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday and could go level on points with second-placed Manchester United with a win. The two Manchester rivals are set to meet in a mouthwatering clash on Sunday and Azpilicueta feels Chelsea have to take the opportunity to close the gap on at least one of the teams.

“The two teams can’t both take three points, so every time you get an opportunity to get close, you have to take it,” he told Sky Sports.

“We have to be intelligent to look at ourselves and then we’ll see how the opponents will react.”

After a sloppy start to their title defence, Chelsea are starting to find their best form ahead of the busy festive period.

They head to the London Stadium having won six of the last seven Premier League games – the only slight blip coming against Liverpool, where they picked up a well-deserved point in a 1-1 draw.

The fixture list around the Christmas period looks a good opportunity for Antonio Conte’s men to amass a healthy points haul as they are set to face teams outside the top six in their next five league matches.

Azpilicueta says they will not be looking at the league table until the last few months of the season with a focus on picking up as many wins as possible between now and then.

“The only target we have is to keep winning points and not drop any,” he said.

“We have to go game by game in this busy period in December – every three days you are fighting for a big three points. We have to look at ourselves. In the last few months you can look at where the opponents are until then we can only look at ourselves.

“We will then see where we are in the final weeks of the season, where we could fight for it.”

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