Antonio Conte fears Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp have a major advantage over him

Chelsea face Liverpool in the first game of their USA summer tour in Pasadena on Wednesday night, but Conte has already earmarked them as a key rival for the Premier League, which kicks off on August 14.

While Conte has been in charge at Stamford Bridge for less than two weeks, Klopp took over Liverpool nine months ago after they sacked Brendan Rodgers in October.

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The former Italy coach feels that Klopp, who led Liverpool to the Europa League Final and Capital One Cup Final last term, is naturally much further ahead of him in working with their respective squads.

He said: “Liverpool are one of the best teams in the League and I’m sure can fight to win the title.

“Jurgen Klopp worked already for nine months with this team and it’s very important for him and Liverpool to understand each other.

“It’s important to work and have the time to transfer your methods and ideas of football.

“It’s very difficult to go in during the season when a manager was sacked. It’s not easy. You must transfer your ideas in a bit of time and it’s difficult.

“But last season was very important for Klopp and the players. The players know Klopp and he knows the players. It’s important to transfer your idea of football and to have the identity of the player.”

Chelsea have played two games so far during pre-season, against Austrian teams Rapid Vienna and RZ Pellets.

After losing against the former, they beat the latter 3-0, but Conte is aware that Liverpool will provide a better opportunity for him to judge his players’ progress.

He added: “It is a good game for us. It’s not the most important thing to win – we try to work on different aspects.

“But we want to play a good game and I want to see improvement from my players. A game against a good opponent is a good game. I’m very curious to see my team against Liverpool.

“I’m pleased because my players are tired after training but they must fight the same. I want to see improvement despite being tired.

“Liverpool are one of seven or eight teams that can fight at the end to win the title. I’m sure of this. Liverpool have a good team, good manager, good football, high intensity, good organisation.”

Conte is also convinced Manchester United will be a major threat following the appointment of former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, but urged his players to focus on their own challenge of bouncing back from last season, where they finished a dismal 10th.

“Mourinho is a top manager and a winner,” he said. “I know this. Now Mourinho is manager of Manchester United and I think Manchester United is another team which will fight to the end to win the title.

“It’s a very strong team, good manager, good players, but it’s important to Chelsea to think of Chelsea and not other clubs and other managers. Think of ourselves. The important thing is to trust in our work and our ideas, this is most important.

“When there is a bad season like last season for Chelsea, there are many, many reasons. Not only one reason, one player or staff, or manager. The blame is a bit for all.

“For this reason it is important to create a good spirit and stay together if we win or lose.

“The spirit in the team is always important. You can have talented players but if there isn’t a good team and good spirit, it is very difficult to win. I know this from experience.

“You can have great players but if you don’t find the right alchemy it’s very difficult to win the league. Leicester last season showed us this is very important.”