Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says the club’s absence from European competition has helped them to the top of the Premier League. The side have a one-point lead over Liverpool and Manchester City and can keep their place at the top with victory over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
It is good we have time to prepare for games, but I would prefer to be in the Champions League.
After the disappointment of last season, Chelsea brought in the former Italian boss who had an uncertain start to life in the Premier League.
However, a shift in formation, to three at the back in a 3-5-2 has transformed their season and they go into Saturday’s game on a run of six consecutive league wins.
They have scored 17 goals in those games without conceding one and Conte admits that, as well as the change in formation, not having the disruption of European football has been a benefit.
He told a press conference ahead of the Spurs game: “After the change in system we found more balance. It’s important we continue to work. I see the players are very happy.
“It is good we have time to prepare for games, but I would prefer to be in the Champions League.”
Saturday’s game at Stamford Bridge will however be a tough test for Conte’s men. Tottenham are the only unbeaten side in the Premier League, though six draws from the 12 games so far mean they trail Chelsea by four points.
Chelsea are 3/4 to win at Stamford Bridge while Spurs are 17/4 and the draw is priced at 14/5.
Conte said, in the press conference, that his players would need to be at their best to keep their winning run going.
“Tottenham has a great manager, talented players, very young, and I think they are improving. We have to pay great attention to them,” he added.
“Tottenham can create great difficulty for any team in this league, and can fight until the end to win the title.”
Chelsea are 5/2 to win the Premier League this season.