Antonio Conte taunts Man Utd as he outlines Tottenham’s fight with "monsters"

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Antonio Conte says Arsenal and Tottenham are fighting against "monsters" this season.

The Spurs boss reckons Thursday night's North London derby is being contested by two teams playing catch-up to a Big Four. He believes there hasn't been a Big Six in the Premier League since the days when he was winning the title as Chelsea boss.

Instead, the Italian insists the spending power of Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United puts them way out in front. And Conte insists the only reason Arsenal and Spurs have a shot at the Champions League this season is because United have imploded.

He said: "The situation in England is very clear. You have monsters. And you have Tottenham and Arsenal. United is strange because they finished second last season and in the transfer market added Cristiano Ronaldo, Varane and Sancho. And they are fighting for sixth place. Maybe it means Arsenal and Tottenham did something incredible to overcome United. But only this.

"For sure, you can speak about the best four. At the start the race for the Champions League seems close, four teams – Manchester City, Liverpool, United and Chelsea. Then it happens during the season that someone can be in trouble and you have to be ready. It happened this season.

"We are trying with Arsenal to find a position in the Champions League. In England, it's like winning a title in another country. It is a big achievement. Don’t forget that four or five years ago when I was at Chelsea, Tottenham was in the top four and the team was really, really strong. I remember very well we won the title and in second place was Tottenham. If you compare Tottenham three, four or five years ago to this moment they have dropped the level."

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Spurs must avoid defeat to Arsenal to have any hope of catching their arch rivals in the race for the top four. But long term Conte believes there are two key things he needs to get Tottenham competing for the big prizes on a regular basis once again – time and money. Conte said: "The problem now is City, Liverpool and Chelsea had time to work with the same coach to improve with big investment. For this reason now there is a gap. An important gap. If you work very hard and continue a process to improve the situation you can hope one day to fight for something important."

Conte also warned Arsenal to expect a different Spurs team to the one they brushed aside 3-1 at the Emirates in September before his arrival. He said: "It was a difficult period for my team. At that time, it was difficult to play because Tottenham's season had started very well, and was at the top. And then, in the next seven games, before I arrived, they got only six points, and for sure at that moment the confidence was down.

"The belief was not so high, and for this reason I think that Arsenal won the game in an important way. I think, and I hope, on Thursday to see another type of game. I think many situations have changed and now we want to show that we are a good team and we can fight for a place in the Champions League."

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