Cesar Azpilicueta has targetted the December showdown with Manchester City as Chelsea’s chance to go top of the Premier League.
Maurizio Sarri’s unbeaten side climbed above Liverpool into second place with the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace .
After finishing 30 points behind the champions last season, the Blues are now City’s closest challengers as they trail by only two points.
The Italian coach has repeatedly played down their title chances. But the Spain defender said Chelsea’s task was to stay close to City until their December 8 clash at Stamford Bridge.
“It’s in our hands, obviously if we don’t drop points, we have the chance to do it,” said Azpilicueta. “We know that to get into that chance, games like against Crystal Palace, you have to get the three points.
“We cannot drop points, we need to work hard, keep improving and let’s see on that day, if we have the chance to do it.
“It’s up to us, last season we finished 20/30 points behind Man City. The gap was massive, obviously we are closer. We are two points behind and it’s up to us to keep the rhythm.”
Pep Guardiola’s side went on a remarkable 18-game winning streak last season to open up a massive gap before the New Year on their way to the title.
“Last season the run they had winning (so many) games in a row – was something (no one could) get anywhere near them, so now it’s true we are closer,” Azpilicueta added.
“But we are in November. Obviously you want to be at the top but we know that in England, we have the Christmas period where we play a lot of games, you then start with the European games knockout stages. We know that, all this and you don’t have an easy game in England. We will see, we will see how far we will go.”
His fellow Spaniard Alvaro Morata netted twice against Palace to bring his tally to six this season after a difficult first campaign in English football.
“Obviously the goals help a lot because we that gives him more confidence, he has been playing well, finding opportunities,” Azpilicueta continued.
“Sometimes the ball does not go in. But I’m happy with his work, with his progress, we know that last season was a tough one for him, so alway he is very important player for us.”