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Ruthless Chelsea can take one more step towards the title against Boro

Chelsea players will walk out onto the Stamford Bridge pitch to face Middlesbrough knowing that they are just two wins away from clinching the Premier League title.

Tottenham's surprise 1-0 defeat to London rivals West Ham United at the London Stadium on Friday night means Mauricio Pochettino's side remain four points behind Chelsea having played a game more. Indeed, should Blues boss Antonio Conte mastermind victory over a Boro team for whom losing could spell relegation and follow it up with another win away at West Bromwich Albion on Friday, the title will be won before Spurs have the chance to kick another ball.

Conte knows his side has renewed momentum and belief. The recent losses to Crystal Palace and Manchester United are all but forgotten. Emphatic victories over Tottenham in the FA Cup and Southampton and Everton in the league have done that.. The psychological boost Chelsea players will have gained from these wins will have been turbo-charged by the sight of Spurs players and their manager Pochettino looking dejected after being beaten by West Ham.

"It's happening again" happy Hammers fans had chanted, a reference to Tottenham once more falling short when it mattered in the title race. Last season it was Leicester City, this time around it's Chelsea and Conte will underline the message to his team that their time is now before they take on Boro.

Conte will hope that David Luiz and N'Golo Kante shake off muscular issues in time for the match. Should the duo fail to regain full fitness in time, the Italian is unlikely to be too troubled.

Nathan Ake who replaced Luiz late on in the game against Everton proved his capabilities as a centre-back when afforded a full 90 minutes in the FA Cup semi with Spurs. On that occasion, he replaced an ill Gary Cahill and did so with aplomb gaining a slew of favourable reviews and Conte will have every confidence in 22-year-old Ake's abilities to do a job against Boro.

PFA Player of the Year Kante has been at the hub of Chelsea's rise to prominence this season. Ordinarily, his unavailability might be considered a worry, however Conte can call on Cesc Fabregas to partner Nemanja Matic in central midfield. What a luxury to have. Whether playing a short cameo from the bench or taking part in a full game, Fabregas has been in imperious form of late with pin-point passes providing assists from which his teammates have benefitted.

Whether or not Luiz and Kante make it is likely to have little bearing on the result against Middlesbrough. While that home loss to Palace still rankles, the Eagles were an altogether more positive, forward-thinking team than Boro are likely to be. It's also fair to say that Chelsea squandered an embarrassing number of chances against Palace. It won't happen again. An early goal for the Blues at the Bridge and the floodgates could well open.

Diego Costa, whose form has been wayward of late, has once more been the subject of intense transfer speculation linking him with a move to Chinese Super League Club. £75 million is the rumoured fee. Conte will have been rubbing his hands gleefully at the prospect of reinvesting that money during the summer, but for now the Chelsea manager has made a point of stating he wants each and every one of his players to be fully focused on closing the season out positively. Five games including the FA Cup final showpiece with Arsenal at Wembley are all that remain. They could be Costa's final five games for the Blues.

Given Conte's reluctance to deploy Michy Batshuayi in the lone striker role, irrespective of what the future holds for Costa at the end of the campaign, the 28-year old looks certain to spearhead Chelsea's attack, and, starting against Boro he will be looking to add to his tally of 19 league goals for the season.

Eden Hazard and Pedro are both in scintillating form, and if Costa comes up short they are more than capable of winning the game for the Blues. Conte of course can also call on the services of likely substitute Willian. The Brazilian midfielder replaced Hazard for the final minutes of the Everton game and still had time to score.

There is no concern that complacency will creep into the Stamford Bridge dressing room. Middlesbrough will be taken care of with ruthless efficiency. Conte's players know the drill. It's not a question of will Chelsea win? More a case of by how much?