Weblog: The football punter

Conte can prove his point against City

THE lure of the High Street might be too much for many to resist as Christmas approaches, but anyone who’s anyone has got to take a festive time-out for Man City v Chelsea.

It may only be December and, if we listen to some of our beloved expert pundits or even Robbie Savage, we’re looking at one of the tightest, most competitive Premier League title races for years, but City against Chelsea does have the feel of a championship fight about it.

That’s no disrespect to Liverpool or Arsenal, who are bringing in some welcome cheer to the upper echelons of the Premier League, though you do get the sense that both will fade at some point. It’s more than a sense with Arsenal; with them it’s a given.

But City and Chelsea will stay the course.

How Jose Mourinho, the greatest ever according to the man himself, must be loving the sight of Antonio Conte breathing life and belief into a dressing room which The Special One lost so pitifully.

And that self-belief makes you think that Chelsea are going to be desperately hard to beat wherever they are playing, and that includes at the Etihad.

They’ve won seven in a row in the league conceding only one goal in that time. Not only is John Terry happy watching all this unfold from the subs’ bench, Chelsea fans are doubtless happy to see him there as well.

City have drawn their last three home league games – it must be a Manchester thing – and a fourth is on the cards here.

If you want one for the FA Cup, Sutton upsetting Cheltenham is my suggestion, though I’m not sure how much of an upset it would be given how much Cheltenham are struggling in League Two.

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Match in Focus

18:00 TODAY BT3

Chievo v Genoa

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Chievo have won just one of their last seven league fixtures
Expert verdict
Genoa have been finding it tough on their travels – losing their last three Serie A away fixtures – but can pick up a point against Chievo in Verona. Confidence will be sky-high in the Genoa camp after the 3-1 win at home to Juventus but they will have to be respectful of mid-table Chievo, who are only a point below them.