Branislav Ivanovic has challenged Leicester City to repeat their staggering success of 2015-16 as Chelsea aim to reclaim their place among England's elite.
The Foxes finished an enormous 31 points above the former champions last season - the Blues languishing in 10th after a horrendous campaign - and 10 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal, as they pulled off one of the most shocking title triumphs in recent memory.
Ivanovic expects the Premier League - which has seen an influx of high-quality players and managers, including the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United and Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge - to be full of top-level competition this term but says that the Foxes will have to one-up themselves.
"Definitely, definitely," he replied when asked whether it would be the most difficult season ever. "Every team after last season will need to struggle. After Leicester won, they then want to be better, to be a new surprise [but] the big teams are still good so it is going to be very exciting."
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"Exactly [you can play well and come fifth] but you can also win it. I think, with the new shape, we can improve a lot and we will make our players much better and, if our players are much better and if our players are on top of their game, then we can go very high."Following Chelsea's failures in 2015-16, Conte has been appointed the club's new permanent manager and has so far signed Michy Batshuayi from Marseille and N'Golo Kante from the Foxes. Ivanovic has been impressed by the Italian's early work.
"The harder it is in pre-season, the better it is for you in the season," the defender remarked. "He has a passion during the games - you can see during the sessions as well - so he wants to put us together as a team, to be strong, to be motivated, to be hungry for every second during the game which is positive and good.
"I think we are still adapting and can improve as a team a lot. I think we are going to play in a different shape and it is going to be different for us, for the opponents and I think we are on a good road."
"I think it is true [that we will be more attacking] but, for me, I feel like we will be more defensively strong. I feel like that."