Saturday Night Takeaway: Chelsea extend winning run to 11, Leicester conjure stirring comeback

Meanwhile, Sunderland's positive result means Christmas shopping can be put on hold

Leicester City

Image: Nigel French EMPICS Sport

Chelsea piled more misery on London neighbours Crystal Palace this afternoon, taking their winning streak to 11 games with a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park.

Mark Noble was again on hand to earn West Ham a second 1-0 home win in a week, this time against Hull City.

Leicester City showed incredible resilience after they came from 2-0 down with 10 men on the pitch to draw away to Stoke City.

Sunderland climbed off the bottom of the table after earning a hard-fought 1-0 win over Watford at the Stadium of Light. 

Fellow strugglers Swansea City could only watch as Middlesbrough plundered their defence and ran out 3-0 winners at the Riverside Stadium.

Alvaro Negredo was on hand to score twice and notch his third and fourth goal in four games. He has been key to his side's successes this year, having been involved in four of Middlesbrough's last six Premier League goals - 3 goals, 1 assist.

In the day's late game, Manchester United made it three league wins on the bounce after a double from Zlatan Ibrahimovic earned them a 2-0 win at West Brom.

Antonio Conte's system setting records at Chelsea

One could observe this afternoon's result at Selhurst Park by looking at Crystal Palace's plunge further into the abyss. A 1-0 defeat at home to the title leaders saw Alan Pardew rack up a 22nd defeat of 2016 and heap even more pressure on his side. They sit one point outside the relegation zone in 16th.

Their victory over Southampton appears to have just been a blip but they have continued to leak goals in recent weeks; three against Hull, two against United and one today. It is decreasing but it continues to cost them dearly.

So instead let us focus on Antonio Conte's wonderful achievement at Chelsea. The Italian became the first Blues boss in history to win 11 consecutive Premier League games and the victory extended their lead at the top of the table to nine points.

Furthermore, it moves them tied for second in the longest run of consecutive league wins alongside the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur of the 1960s.

For those of you who tipped Chelsea at the start of the season, congratulations. Since swapping to their 3-4-3 system, they have scored 25 goals and conceded just twice. They look by some way the most formidable team in the league.

They'll have to do without the league's top scorer in Diego Costa, but know they have enough quality in their team to see them through the festive period. 

Antonio Conte has deployed a system that seems to be getting the best out of Diego Costa. Image: Matt Dunham AP/Press Association Images

All is not lost at Leicester, but the real work starts here

Leicester showed flickers of last year's fight which saw them claim the Premier League crown by coming from 2-0 down at half time to draw 2-2 with just minutes left on the clock.

Jamie Vardy was sent off in the first half and both Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs picked up yellow cards, ruling them out of the Foxes next game - a home tie against Everton in case you were wondering.

Claudio Ranieri cut a frustrated figure on the sideline this afternoon and must have delivered a rousing half time talk to stir his players into life. Substitute Leonardo Ulloa and Daniel Amartey both scored after the break to earn them a point. The result was reminiscent of so many fixtures last season when they looked dead and buried, but managed to come back and secure an unlikely result.

This season - domestically anyway - hasn't gone to plan, but showing spirit like that can go a long way. Ranieri has enough experience to know how to stave off a relegation battle, so picking up points in their next three games will be vitally important to their season.

Claudio Ranieri's team showed heart, determination and guts last year to win a maiden Premier League title. They'll need plenty of that in the coming weeks to avoid a relegation battle. Image:  Nigel French EMPICS Sport

Sunderland have the quality to see out the season 

David Moyes admitted this week that had he known about the limited funds available to him for this January's transfer window, he would have have had to think hard about taking the Sunderland job.

The complaint is fair enough when you consider how much Sunderland have struggled over recent seasons and their involvement in relegation battles. Moyes is calling for time and resources to rebuild the team in his mould, like he had done at Everton.

Today's win temporarily takes some of the pressure of his team, who climb out of the relegation zone. Their performances in recent weeks have shown signs of promise and the players at their disposal are finally beginning to hit form.

Jordan Pickford looks an excellent prospect in the Sunderland goal, while the ever reliable Jermain Defoe will always get you goals. His assist today for Patrick van Aanholt's winner offers evidence of his enduring talent.

While there will be room for recruitment and a chance to add to the squad further down the line, if Moyes can get the best out of these players they will face a summer transfer window as a Premier League club and the rebuild can kick into full swing.

Next up though, Manchester United away. Gulp.

Christmas cards for everyone

Today alone, eight players were given cards meaning they will miss their next game. In total, 30 cards were handed out.

Jamie Vardy was given a red card for a two-footed during Leicester's game against Stoke, while teammates Christian Fuchs and Robert Huth also went into the book to rule them out of the next game. Perhaps this game was an outlier, with seven Leicester players receiving cards.  In total, nine players went in referee Craig Pawson's book.

Diego Costa and N'Golo Kante are both now suspended for Chelsea, while Crystal Palace will be without Damien Delaney.

Mark Noble scored the winner this afternoon from the spot for West Ham - but 16 minutes previously he was given a yellow card to rule him out of the Hammers' clash with Swansea. 

With fixtures beginning to pile up, suspensions for key players may take their toll; especially on clubs around the bottom half.

On the other hand, being forced to sit out a game could keep players from burning out over the festive period.