Chelsea are not above the Europa League, says Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte thinks that his side must accept the “reality” of going into the Europa League, as they look likely to miss out on the Champions League after poor form throughout 2018.
Chelsea have only won three league games this calendar year in matches against Brighton, West Brom and Crystal Palace, which has seen them become outsiders in the race for the top four.
A 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge against Tottenham last Sunday was the latest setback and the Blues look to improve their fortunes against West Ham seven days laterA�in another London derby. A victory would bring the gap to Spurs and Liverpool down to eight points, with the Blues also having an additional game in hand on the Reds.
Ahead of the West Ham match, Conte spoke of the likely Europa League future for the club,A�and hopes the club will be predicted to do better next season.
“I think that for a club like Chelsea, it is important to play in the Champions League and to play in the Europa League,” Conte told reporters.A�”We must be realistic to understand the reality.
“It was my prediction [that we would struggle]A�and I now stop. Maybe next season, I will have another prediction that is better than this [seasona��s prediction]. I think that you become stronger after a defeat. When you win, you dona��t see the real problems.
“I think that when you dona��t win, you have a lot of strength to try to change your situation, to try to have a good answer. During a defeat it makes you stronger than weaker. I think now is not the right moment to speak about this topic [plans for next season]. The most important thing for us is to finish the season in the best possible way.
“To focus on the present and to go game-by-game. Then, if we arrive at the right moment, we will speak about the future.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea can still call themselves champions a little while longer after Manchester City failed to officially win the leagueA�after losing 2-3 toA�Manchester UnitedA�at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
City will hoist the trophy eventually,A�and Conte does admitA�there isA�currently a great gap between his club and the league leaders that will need to be addressed thisA�summer.
“I think Manchester City have created a fantastic path to the league,” he added. “They won the Carabao Cup. In the FA Cup, they were eliminated. Now they are in another competition, in the Champions League. I think every team has to understand what is your target before the season starts, which is your target that makes you happy about your season.