Antonio Conte would prefer Chelsea to be playing in the Champions League, but believes it is an advantage for him that they are not.
Chelsea finished a lowly 10th last season in a dismal defence of their Premier League title and are playing no part in European competition this time around.
But the lack of continental football appears to be benefiting Chelsea, who are a point ahead of Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after 12 games in their first season under Conte’s stewardship.
They will look to extend a run of six successive league wins on Saturday against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
Asked if not having to compete in the Champions League was a plus, Conte replied: “It’s important to have more days to work because I am working with the players in this club only four months.
“When you arrive with a new philosophy it’s important to have the possibility to work. This can be an advantage, but for sure I prefer to play the Champions League.”
Tottenham were knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday after losing 2-1 at Group E rivals Monaco.
But Conte anticipates a reaction to that exit from Spurs, having seen Mauricio Pochettino’s men claim a point at Arsenal four days after succumbing to defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen.
“Every game is different, after the defeat against Leverkusen Tottenham played a very good game against Arsenal,” Conte added.
“For this reason we have to know we will have a tough game against a strong team. It will be another game in the league, this is a special derby for both teams.”
Chelsea drew 2-2 with Tottenham in the corresponding fixture back in May, a result which handed Leicester City the title.
That contest featured 12 bookings and Conte is keen for his players to keep their emotions in check this weekend.
“It’s important to win the game and play good football. These are the most important things. It’s right to have passion, but to use it in the right way,” he explained.