Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has encouraged his team to make a huge step towards a top-four finish in the Premier League by beating Stoke City on Saturday.
The Blue’s know their odds of retaining the Premier League title are thin given Manchester City’s record-breaking run has left Chelsea 16 points hapless of the EPL table toppers.
However, they have won their last six Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge and are right now only a point behind Manchester United in second place.
Chelsea also brag a four-point advantage over Liverpool, the club directly beneath them, and Conte is hoping to keep up that preferred standpoint heading into 2018.
“In this league, there is great motivation for all to try to stay there and fight until the end,” Conte said.
“I don’t know if we can do this for the title because it depends on Manchester City, who are doing something extraordinary.
“To win every game and draw one means you are having a fantastic run.
“But there is great motivation to find a place in the Champions League next year, there are four places for six top teams.
“Our start wasn’t easy for many reasons but we want to work and improve. There are many competitions and we must be very proud to play every game.”
Chelsea has struggled to repeat last season’s title-winning heroics, with Conte spending a significant part of the summer in a severe dispute with Spanish forward Diego Costa.
Costa was in the long run replaced by Real Madrid and Spanish forward Alvaro Morata and the former Old Lady and will go into Saturday’s clash with 12 Chelsea goals to his name, including a hat-trick in the 4-0 win at Stoke in September.
Conte is charmed with Morata’s commitment but at the same time is careful this was his first experience of a hectic festive period, with the same applying to summer signing Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko.
“It’s the first time they’ve played at Christmas,” Conte said. “It’s not simple but this atmosphere is great.
“During this period you have your parents, brothers, daughters with you and the family come to watch the game.
“It’s a busy period for us but it started in November and will continue through January and February.”