LONDON -- Pep Guardiola's claim that the Premier League title is Chelsea's to lose is no more than a "normal mental strategy," according to Antonio Conte.
Chelsea head into Saturday's clash with rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge nine points clear at the top of the table and extended their lead in midweek despite being held to a draw with Liverpool at Anfield, courtesy of the Gunners' shock loss to Watford and Tottenham's failure to beat Sunderland.
Speaking after Manchester City's impressive 3-0 win over West Ham, Guardiola said there is no point in his team attempting to chase down Chelsea, but Conte -- who was an interested spectator at the London Stadium -- believes the former Barcelona boss is simply trying to put pressure on the leaders.
"It's normal, a mental strategy that every single coach tries to use for his players, and also to try and put a bit of pressure on the others," Conte said of Guardiola's comments. "But normal, a normal strategy. I like to respect every decision [taken by] the other coaches."
Chelsea's lead with just 15 Premier League matches of the season remaining is a formidable one, but Conte pointed to the Blues' position in the table immediately following successive defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal in September as proof that things can change very quickly.
"I'm very happy to have changed the system [to 3-4-3 after the Arsenal game] because now we are top of the league and, in that moment, I remember that we were eight points from City [at the top]," Conte added.
"To answer Pep, the situation can change very quickly, also if you have 10 points more than another opponent. In that moment, City had eight points more than Chelsea. After 18 games, the situation has changed. There are 15 games left and we must pay great attention.
"I saw a really good team [at the London Stadium], but we all know the potential of Manchester City. We all know it. I think the strange thing is the current situation, but we all know their potential.
"They have a great squad, a lot of fantastic players in the team, and they played a really good game against West Ham. They played very well. Gabriel Jesus played very well, and [Raheem] Sterling and [Leroy] Sane. But the whole team, the performance was very good.
"I repeat: if someone thinks the league is finished, I'm not so sure. I want to have this tension, this right tension. In the past I've fought to win the title as a player and a manager and I know we must pay great attention. There are 15 games to play and a lot of great teams behind us."