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Ahead of FA Cup semifinal, Conte calls Spurs “the best team” in PL

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea - Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea (L) and Mauriio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur (R) speak prior to the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on January 4, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Easily the most controversial statement to come out of Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Sunday was this loaded gem from Blues boss Antonio Conte: “I think Tottenham are now the best team.”

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking to reporters after the game, Conte was asked about his side’s FA Cup semifinal clash against Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs next Saturday, and the impact it might have on the two sides as they sprint to the finish line in the race for the Premier League title — quotes from the Guardian:

“It won’t be easy because I think Tottenham are now the best team. They are in good form and they have a lot of enthusiasm. They are feeling the possibility to write history and it is important for us to know this.”

“We lost two games but those games were totally different. Against Crystal Palace, we didn’t deserve to lose. Today we deserved to lose the game. We didn’t play a good game and United deserved to win. We have to think there are six finals from now until the end of the season. The league is open and we have a 50% [opportunity] to win the league. It will be good to finish on top of the table and, if so, it means we deserve this. Otherwise we must clap another team.”

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Spurs apply pressure to Chelsea (again) ]

Conte is so clearly challenging his players, who have suffered defeat twice in their last four PL games, to shun the complacency which has perhaps crept in after leading the title race for the majority of the season. Spurs have won seven straight league games, by a combined score of 22-4, and cut the gap between themselves and Chelsea from 10 points to four.

It’s Management 101 by the book, and I see right through your mind games, Antonio.

Follow @AndyEdMLS