We take a look at the key news stories surrounding Chelsea FC from the day.

Courtois happy with Chelsea progress

Thibaut Courtois is very pleased with the progress Chelsea have made under manager Antonio Conte. He kept another clean sheet as his side beat Crystal Palace 1-0 over the weekend. Courtois is pleased with Chelsea’s current run of 11 wins in the league and has previously said how he feels their performances are damaging the confidence of their title rivals.

Courtois feels that the team has been performing well and their 1-0 victories over teams that are tough to break down are a very good sign. He also hailed Chelsea’s new system.

“It’s going very well,” said the Chelsea goalkeeper, according to the club’s official website. “That defeat to Arsenal hurt us but we’ve come back stronger with the new tactics and system,” he said. “It works well, everybody is doing their job and we keep on winning. The spirit is very important.”

“This week was good because we played against smaller teams but they defend well and it’s hard to break them down. To win all three games 1-0 is very good and we’re happy. We now have two home games in front of our fans so we need to win them both.”

Courtois will be hoping for another clean sheet as Chelsea take on Bournemouth next Monday.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14: Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea reacts after the final whistle during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Chelsea at Stadium of Light on December 14, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Pleased with Chelsea’s progress : Thibaut Courtois has hailed Chelsea’s new system and is pleased with their current run of form (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Gary Neville praises “outstanding” David Luiz

Gary Neville has once again praised Chelsea centre back David Luiz. The former Manchester United defender who famously once said that Luiz looked like he was “being controlled by a 10-year old on a PlayStation” has had no issue with changing his stance on the defender and has praised his performances several times this season.

And Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football show after Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Everton, the former Manchester United defender Neville singled out Luiz for special praise.

“I think the [Chelsea] system suits him. I’ve talked about him being cuddled by his goalkeeper, by Azpilicueta and by Cahill. But also his decision-making has been far better in terms of not being as rash,” he said, according to the SportReview.

“He’s got a fantastic pass and is dominant in the air. I thought he was outstanding away at Man City, clearing his lines at the near post when crosses were coming into the box. Chelsea’s record with him in the team is absolutely fantastic.”

“I didn’t see him as a fit at all with Conte. However, he’s been outstanding. I have to say he looks more mature, he’s not getting distracted by the sideshow stuff on the pitch like he did before. He looks to me to have a really good focus. He’s a key figure in that spine for Chelsea.”

Luiz has definitely been one of Chelsea’s best performers this season and Conte will be hoping he continues to maintain this level of excellence.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: David Luiz of Chelsea (L) and James McArthur of Crystal Palace (R) battle for possession during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on December 17, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Dominant again : Luiz was excellent once again as Chelsea kept a clean sheet and got their 11th straight win against Cystal Palace. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Former Chelsea defender Alex forced to retire

Former Chelsea defender Alex has been forced into retirement. The 34-year-old Brazilian, who also had spells with AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, has been a free agent since leaving Italy in the summer.

Alex managed to pick up a knee injury during his time off and that has pushed him into making the decision to retire. He feels that the recovery time and pain of surgery will be too much and has called time on his career.

“I’m retiring, I made the decision with my family,” Alex told Globoesporte, according to Sky Sports.

“I would need to have surgery and then it would take nine months to come back. I just couldn’t put up with that pain.”

Alex initially joined Chelsea in 2004 before spending 3 years on loan at Dutch club PSV. He finally made his debut for Chelsea in 2007 and went on to spend 5 years at the club, winning a Premier League title, FA Cup trophy and Community Shield trophy during his time in London.

He made a total of 134 appearances for the Blues, scoring 11 goals.

Paris' Brazilian defender Alex Costa warms up before the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge in London on April 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
Final whistle : 34-year old former Chelsea defender Alex has called time on his career. (Photo Courtesy GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Frank Lampard thinks Chelsea are title favourites

Frank Lampard has backed former club Chelsea to lift the title in the Premier League this season. The Blues legend – who is still their record goalscorer – feels that no one expected Chelsea to be this good but that they have now proven themselves as the most consistent team in the league.

Lampard, who has admitted previously that he would like to manage Chelsea, also credited current manager Antonio Conte’s change in system with bringing about this consistency.

“The manager obviously changed the system after a defeat at Arsenal,” he told Sky Sports. “Nobody would have fancied them to be anywhere near winning the League at that point and now they look the dominant team.”

“I don’t like to tempt fate but I can’t see anyone who has got the consistency to close the gap, so I fancy Chelsea strongly now.”

Lampard also reserved special praise for Diego Costa, who has been in brilliant form this season.

“I watched him first-hand last week against West Brom. It was a tight game and he was the difference,” he said.

“He is really on his game and has got everything as a striker. He can finish, he is strong, he keeps going, and I am really enjoying watching him play. The link-up between him and Hazard has been a bit special.”

Chelsea legend Frank Lampard laughs as he awaits kick-off in the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge in London on December 11, 2016. / AFP / Adrian DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pleased with what he is seeing : Chelsea legend Frank Lampard was on hand to witness Diego Costa’s performance against West Bromwich Albion in person. (Photo Courtesy ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Lampard will be hoping that one of the Spaniard’s teammates can step up and be the difference against Bournemouth as Costa will miss that game through suspension.

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