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Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte believes Chelsea are in a far better shape than when he first arrived.

Conte led Chelsea to a Premier League triumph last season a year after the Blues finished a lowly tenth the previous campaign, during which Mourinho was sacked.

“Don’t forget two years ago, Chelsea ended the season 10th and not in the FA Cup final, not in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and they were eliminated in the last 16 against PSG in the Champions League. It can happen,” Conte said.

“You must know that there is this possibility, because you play in a strong league. For this reason, you have to know this and prepare in the right way. There are six top teams at the start of the season ready to fight for a place in the Champions League. It can happen. In the past, it happened the same.”

Asked if Chelsea were now in a better place than when he arrived, Conte added: “For sure, we worked two years and worked very hard to try to build something, to create a base.

“I think you remember. Last season, after a 10th place, we won the Premier League. It was difficult. We worked very hard, but we won. After a 10th-place finish. Now, probably, you can finish fifth and start with a bit of an advantage compared to when you finish 10th.

“We are struggling to take a place in the Champions League. But, I repeat, you play in a league that is very tough; where there are six top teams who fight to take the four Champions League places. It can happen. Last season, if I remember, United finished sixth and Arsenal fifth. It means you must pay great attention for the present and the future. It won’t be easy. It’s not automatic that you finish every season in the top four.”

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