Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte believes Tottenham had an advantage over his side in this season's Premier League title race.
Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have pushed Conte's league leaders closer than any other would-be challengers but a surprise 1-0 loss at West Ham on Friday moved Chelsea closer to glory.
If the Blues beat Middlesbrough on Monday at Stamford Bridge – a result that would relegate their opponents – and then claim three more points at West Brom four days later, they will be champions before Tottenham return to action against Manchester United next Sunday.
Chelsea have been free from the distractions of European football on account of their 10th-placed finish in 2015-16, while Spurs endured disappointment in both the Champions League and the Europa League.
But, rather than seeing this as a helpful factor, Conte believes Pochettino working for a third year with a settled squad was a preferable position to his own – inheriting a group of talented players at a low ebb.
"I must be honest about this topic. I think that Tottenham have an advantage if you compare Tottenham to Chelsea because Mauricio Pochettino is a really good manager and is working with his team for a third year," the former Juventus boss said.
"Tottenham, last season, fought to win the title and Chelsea came 10th. You can see our transfer market and Tottenham's transfer market.
"Then, I think Tottenham, in their project, have an advantage if you compare them to us. This is my first season and I found a lot of situations, a lot of players.
"Pochettino has been working there for three years and has changed a lot of players and is working very well.
"In this season, if Chelsea had not performed in this way, Tottenham would win the title without difficulty.
"Only this great season [from Chelsea] is pushing them to fight to win or not to win the title. But, I repeat, Tottenham's position for me is more advanced if you compare Tottenham's to Chelsea."