Chelsea's Antonio Conte launches the title-race mind games as Tottenham hope to cut their lead to 4 points
Antonio Conte has taunted title-scrap rival Mauricio Pochettino, insisting: Everyone expects Chelsea to win the league - for Tottenham, it would be a bonus.
It is a first attempt at mind-games from the Italian, who has seen his table-toppers' lead cut to just seven points ahead of Wednesday’s showdown against fourth-placed Manchester City.
In-form Spurs go to relegation-threatened Swansea the same night, and results could have the North Londoners just a point adrift when the Blues kick off at Bournemouth on Saturday evening.
Conte said: “The difference between Chelsea and Tottenham is this: If you are at Chelsea and win, it’s normal. If you are at Tottenham, if you win it’s great — great! — but if you lose... it’s not a disaster, no? Not a disaster. Because you find a lot of situations [positives] to explain a good season.
“But, I repeat, in this season, us and Tottenham stay in the same level.
"Chelsea were underdogs at the start of the season [after finishing just 10th a year ago], but now we are top and we want to keep this position.”
Spurs, playing without star striker Harry Kane, have won their last two games, scoring four goals in the process.
Pochettino's in-form side have earned 26 points this calendar year — more than any other Premier League team.
All five of Chelsea’s league and cup defeats this season have come in London, but as City prepare to visit the Bridge a defiant Conte added: “This result will be important.
Click to play Tap to play
Video will play in
Share this video
"But this run must give you enjoyment. It must make you proud to be in this run.
“Don’t forget, nobody thought Chelsea, in this season, would fight for the title. Don’t forget this. But we are trying to change the situation.”
Conte also said he is not worried that opponents have cracked the code of his team’s defence.
The leaders have kept just two clean sheets from their last 11 games, after 10 in their previous 12.
Conte, whose side were surprisingly beaten at home by Crystal Palace on Saturday, said: “I’m not concerned about this. It’s normal that every team has to find a strategy to play against us.
"In the same way, we try to find a strategy to play against the others. Usually when you concede a goal – not only Chelsea, but in general – it means there was not only one mistake but many mistakes.
“It’s important to analyse this situation and try to improve for the next time. We do this. After the game, we do this.”
Palace striker Christian Benteke claimed the Eagles had identified and exploited a weakness in Chelsea’s defence, but Conte insisted his men would be wise to it against Pep Guardiola's men.
He added: “When you play against City, it’s really important to have good attention; above all, without the ball. But you must also pay attention when you attack because they have good players to play counter-attack: Sterling, Sane, Aguero, De Bruyne.
"We’re talking about a great team with a great coach.”
Conte is weighing up whether to stick with Pedro at right wing-back after the Spain international forward -filling in for the injured Victor Moses - was given a torrid time by Palace's Wilfried Zaha.
“I have to check a couple of situations for my players, and then decide," said the Italian.
“Pedro, I think, is playing very well and having a fantastic season. I hope he continues in this way. He showed me great attitude and commitment if he plays as a striker, or as a wing-back.
“Saturdaym he played a really good game. And then, I repeat, I have to check a couple of situations and make the best decision for the starting XI.”
Are Chelsea still going to win this title?
500+ VOTES SO FAR
About Article Author