Chelsea are officially worried about Tottenham
If you don’t think Chelsea are in a legitimate Premier League title race then you aren’t listening closely enough to manager Antonio Conte. The manager’s most recent comments to the media show just how worried he is about Spurs.
If Conte weren’t worried about Mauricio Pochettino’s club, then he wouldn’t bother taking shots at them in the media. He took a backhanded swipe at Spurs by saying that something that is “normal” for Chelsea would be “great” for Tottenham. That event, of course, would be winning a Premier League title.
The point here isn’t whether or not Conte is right. Even as an ardent Tottenham supporter I must concede there is much truth in his assertion. Instead, the question is why Conte would take the risk of saying such a thing publicly.
First off, let’s immediately brush off the idea that Conte wasn’t thinking. He’s a brilliant manager with a long history of skillfully dealing with the media. The Chelsea boss doesn’t say anything to the press that he doesn’t want to be published.
That means that he meant to take a shot at Spurs. The only rational explanation for that is that he’s somewhat concerned about their ability to overtake Chelsea in the table. He might think it unlikely (and it is), but he clearly doesn’t think it’s impossible.
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If he did, he wouldn’t take the risk of poking Pochettino’s squad. In essence, Conte would be content to let sleeping dogs lie. His decision to try to engage in mind games with Tottenham is actually a compliment for the North London club. He clearly sees them as legitimate competitors.
It will be quite interesting to see how Spurs react. Last season, they clearly buckled under the pressure of chasing Leicester City. No Tottenham can fan forget the club’s capitulation at Stamford Bridge that ceded the Foxes the title.
This Spurs squad feels a bit different though. Perhaps it’s another year of age on many of Pochettino’s stars. More likely, it’s a feeling produced by a squad who’s been through a Premier League title race before. Every member of last year’s squad knows the pain of missing out on the biggest prize in England.
Conte wants his words to rattle Pochettino’s squad. Last season, it would have worked. This year, none of us can really be sure. It’ll be an interesting couple of weeks in England’s top flight.