Thomas Tuchel has insisted Tottenham and Arsenal threw away a 'huge advantage' in the top-four race by failing to capitalise on their early exits from cup competitions.
Chelsea reached the finals of the Carabao Cup and FA Cup this season and also exited the Champions League in the quarter-finals. In addition, they also took part in the Club World Cup at the turn of the year.
Competing on multiple fronts has given them a congested fixture list, something which rivals Arsenal and Tottenham have been able to avoid. Spurs exited both domestic cup competitions early and also failed to progress in the Europa Conference League group stages, whereas the Gunners had no such continental commitments.
Speaking before his side's meeting with Arsenal on Wednesday, Tuchel revealed his belief that the north London pair – who trail the Blues in the top-four race – may regret not making their kind fixture lists count.
"They have been given a huge advantage," Tuchel said. "I was not happy when Tottenham were out of the (Europa) Conference League.
"Because I thought, 'Wow, I know what Antonio Conte can do with teams when they are focused and he can train them physically'.
"I thought this will be a huge uplift for them in the domestic competition, and the same for Arsenal when they went out of the cup.
Listen now to 90min's Chelsea podcast Wherever You May Be, hosted by Olivia Buzaglo. Each week, Olivia and guests Krishan Davis & Anita Abayomi talk all things blue. In our latest episode, the team go through a Q&A and give their shouts for player of the season so far.
"I thought it would be a huge boost for them, because they have a very young and talented team."
If Chelsea beat Arsenal on Wednesday the Blues will go 11 points clear of their London rivals in fifth, putting them in pole position to secure a top-four finish.
For more from Matt O’Connor-Simpson, follow him on Twitter