Antonio Conte delivers Chelsea verdict as Tottenham and Arsenal battle for Champions League qualification

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 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says his former club Chelsea are too good to be dragged into the scrap for the top four, despite their defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday.

The Blues are five points clear of Spurs and Arsenal, and have a game in hand over the north London pair, who meet in N17 next month.

Conte believes Spurs are battling with the Gunners, Manchester United and Wolves for the final Champions League place, and says the team that makes the fewest mistakes will finish fourth.

"I don’t think Chelsea will be in this race," Conte said ahead of Saturday’s visit to Brentford.

"In my opinion, at the moment, they’re at a different level. They’re there because they missed some games but they won’t stay in this race.

"We have to fight with Arsenal, who showed yesterday they’re in good form, Manchester United, West Ham and Wolverhampton.

"We showed we deserved to be in this race and now we have to fight until the end. The last second will show where we deserve to be in this table."

Spurs had won four games on the bounce but slipped up with last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Brighton, allowing Arsenal to close the gap with a big win at Stamford Bridge.

"I said before the game against Brighton, in this type of race it’ll be very important to do less mistakes as possible," Conte added.

"But in this league you can drop points in every game.

"Every game is tough. They’re not easy games, to go there and get easy points. Manchester United against Norwich, 3-2! And at 75 minutes, they were 2-2.

"It’s very very difficult. Especially when you play a team involved in the relegation zone, like West Ham against Burnley, you know it won’t be easy.

"In this race, the team that’s able to make less mistakes from now until the end can have the possibility to play in the Champions League next season."

Christian Eriksen will face his former club and manager on Saturday, with the Dane having left Spurs to join Conte’s Inter Milan in January 2020.

Brentford have won all five League games that Eriksen has started after he joined the Bees on a free in January following his cardiac arrest at the Euros.

Conte bumped into the Dane at his hotel shortly after he completed a remarkable return to football and says it will be a pleasure to catch up with him at the weekend.

"I’m very happy to see him play football again. Because don’t forget in June it was terrible, the images were terrible for everybody," the Italian said.

"We suffered a lot for him, for his family. I had the opportunity to meet him when he’d just arrived in Brentford, to speak with him and his family.

Christian Eriksen has had a big impact on Brentford’s recent run of form (Getty Images)
Christian Eriksen has had a big impact on Brentford’s recent run of form (Getty Images)

"And we’re talking about not only an important player but a great person and a great man. I wish him and his family the best for the present and the future.

"To meet him on Saturday for the game will be a pleasure for me.

"It’s incredible because not many times this happens and to see him again play football makes me very happy. Because I know football is life.

"To have this opportunity is great for him and his family because they come back to have a normal life."

Conte will be without Oliver Skipp (pelvis), Japhet Tanganga (knee) and Matt Doherty (knee) in west London but had no fresh injury concerns Thursday.

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