Antonio Conte has insisted that he would like Tottenham to face Chelsea again, in a warning about Spurs’ improvement also aimed at Arsenal.
Tottenham have struggled with inconsistency since Conte became manager in November. In fact, the north London side recently went through a pattern of winning and then losing straight after, a run lasting 15 matches. The only outlier in that sequence was a second defeat in a row.
However, Spurs broke that spell of form with a 3-1 Premier League win over West Ham on Sunday. Indeed, that was the first time Tottenham have won two on the bounce since mid-December.
Conte has continually maintained that his biggest aim at Tottenham is to close the gap to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
However, Sunday’s win was a major step closer in the battle to overtake Arsenal into fourth in the Premier League. The two north London rivals are now a point apart and still have to play each other, although the Gunners have a game in hand.
Nevertheless, Spurs’ top-four hopes looked slim earlier in the season. Conte subsequently insisted that he now plans to fight for the final Champions League qualifying place.
“You know very well that I like to fight. I think my past gives me the chance. I also deserve the chance to fight to win,” the manager told the Sunday Mirror after the win over the Hammers.
“The only way to put pressure on Arsenal is to get three points. To win. There are nine games to go and for us every game has to be a final.
“They have a good advantage because they’ve been working with the same coach for many years and they’ve had many transfer markets with the same coach.
“Maybe now they are more ready than us but in five months we have done a fantastic job with these players.”
Conte also insisted that he wants a rematch with Chelsea to prove his side have improved. The two sides have met four times this season, the Blues running out 8-0 aggregate winners.
Conte wants Tottenham, Chelsea rematch
“I now think we have reduced the gap with many teams in England,” the manager said. “One example, two months ago we played against Chelsea three times and we lost three games.
“It was right because Chelsea were better than us in every aspect. After two months now I would like to have another chance to see what our level is.
“I’m sure now our level has improved a lot and that Chelsea would have to fight much to win against us than before.”
Tottenham must focus on top four
As Conte says, Tottenham will get a chance to prove their top-four credentials against Arsenal.
The Gunners have turned a corner under Mikel Arteta and looked to test themselves against Liverpool last Wednesday.
They matched the Reds pound-for-pound for 45 minutes, but Jurgen Klopp’s side eventually ran out as the winners.
Spurs also still have to go to Anfield to play Liverpool in one of their final games.
The 2-2 draw between the sides back in December was a thriller and Conte will also be looking forward to the trip to Merseyside.