Antonio Conte tells players they must win title to make lasting impression
Antonio Conte has told his Chelsea players they will be remembered only if they go on to win the Premier League title.
The Blues have been rejuvenated under the Italian head coach, but face a test of their credentials at West Ham on Monday.
The Hammers beat Chelsea in the EFL Cup in October at the London Stadium in a match marred by crowd violence.
That result came after three matches of a 13-game winning run in the Premier League and is one of two losses in 24 games for Chelsea since September.
So impressive have Chelsea been that N'Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, David Luiz and Diego Costa have all been mentioned as possible recipients of player of the year awards.
Conte would not be drawn on his nomination with more than two months of the season remaining but did have some advice.
"All my players are playing very well and deserve the best," he said.
"But it's important in this case to finish the right way and try to win. Only if you win will people remember you."
Chelsea won the 2014-15 title, but last season's 10th-placed finish sees them absent from Europe.
Jose Mourinho, Conte's predecessor, has continually bemoaned his Manchester United side's congested fixture list, pointing to Chelsea's comparatively light schedule, while not acknowledging his role in the Blues being absent from European football.
And Conte says it is imperative Chelsea return to the Champions League next season.
United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool are all battling to finish in the top four.
"The Champions League, I think, must be an appointment for us every year. It must be (at) our house," Conte added.
"We started our season trying to fight until the end to win the title and to try and fight until the end to be in the right position to go into next season's Champions League. This was our target.
"It wasn't easy to start the season and know that six strong teams fight for the title and the Champions League.
"Don't forget, in this six teams, two won't play in the Champions League next season. They have to go into the Europa League, which is a bit different.
"Now this league is very, very difficult. To win the title and also to find a place to play the Champions League is not easy."
Chelsea's most recent Premier League away game was a draw at Burnley.
And Conte compared that with their next opponents in claret and blue, West Ham.
"This game against West Ham, for us, is very important," Conte said.
"In the last away game, the way we played against Burnley, we drew. They played very physical football against us.
"Maybe it can happen, the same, against West Ham on Monday.
"But for this reason we are preparing for this type of situation. It will be a really tough game."
Chelsea's League Cup exit was overshadowed when segregation broke down in the London Stadium.
Chelsea have been in communication with West Ham over security measures for Monday's match and Conte called for a good atmosphere.
He said: "Last time wasn't good. I hope in this game our fans, the West Ham fans, enjoy totally the game and find the right atmosphere.
"I think the players, the club, the country deserves this."