Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Goodison Park on Sunday, where they will face an in-form Everton side, Antonio Conte came out in defence of his players, saying that he thought they were “the best in the world.”

Conte’s Chelsea have seen their form drop somewhat in recent weeks, compared to their performances earlier in the season, with Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side being able to close the gap from 11 points to four.

Chelsea had gone on a record-equalling 13 match unbeaten streak from the 1st of October to the 31st of December, but have fallen to losses against Spurs, Manchester United and Crystal Palace, which has significantly cut their gap at the top of the Premier League.

The Chelsea head coach was asked whether he would prefer to have Everton’s Romelu Lukaku over his top scorer, Diego Costa, and replied with: “My players are the best in the world.”

“I think Lukaku, for sure, is a really good player, and he’s scoring a lot of goals this season and not only this season.”

The Italian, however, refused to get bogged down focusing on Lukaku, adding:

“For sure we have to pay great attention to Lukaku, and the other players, because they have a lot of other players with good technique.”

Chelsea’s clash with Everton on Sunday is seen by many as the would-be champions final hurdle on their trip to the title. With that in mind, Conte was keen to warn his players and the fans that Ronald Koeman’s side would be no push-over, saying:

“For sure, Everton is a good team and a strong team with great players in the squad, good quality. Physical team also I think they have a good coach a good manager.”

“Everton is a strong team and when they play at home they are strong. You’ll know this, but for sure it is important to look at ourselves.”

“I think for sure, it’ll be a real tough game for us, but I think until the end of the season every game becomes tough for us for different reasons.”

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