Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has predicted Tottenham will again challenge for the Premier League title this season and has warned his players to “pay great attention” when the two sides meet on Saturday.
The Blues are top following six successive victories and have not conceded a goal in 590 minutes of football since switching to three at the back during their 3-0 defeat by Arsenal on 24 September.
But Conte believes Spurs – unbeaten in the Premier League this term – will present a threat to that run and praised his opposite number Mauricio Pochettino.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday ahead of the match, Conte said: “Tottenham has a great manager, a lot of talented players, very young, and I think they have improved compared to last season.
“For this reason, we have to pay great attention tomorrow in this type of tricky game. I am pushing my players to be focused but I think they are ready.”
Conte said he watched April’s stormy 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge – when nine Spurs players and three from Chelsea were all booked – on television in Italy.
And he admitted that his side needed to focus on winning the match, rather than settling old scores.
Conte said: “It’s important to think of the game, to play good football and to deserve to win the game, these are the most important things for me.
“It is right to put your passion [into the game] but in the right way, not in a bad way.
“I think we will see a good game with two good teams. They must be very focused because the game is very tough.
“Tottenham can create great difficulty for every team in this league. For me, they are a very strong team and can fight until the end to win the title.”