Antonio Conte says he expects the race for the premier league title this season to be split between six teams.
Conte won the title in his first season in charge at Chelsea and expects the other teams to bring their best against them.
Chelsea begin the campaign to defend their title on Saturday against Burnley and will be hoping to hold on to the trophy.
“I don’t know if this season could be more difficult than last season,” Conte told reporters on Friday. “I don’t know.
“We are champions. We have to face every game in the right way. The other teams will try to give 120 per cent against us. For this reason we have to pay great attention every game, to have the right approach, to have the right intensity. For this reason I’m telling you we’re working very hard to try to improve our team.
“When you start a new season it’s very important to think of ourselves, not to see the others. To assess the other teams is not important for us.
“You know very well that in England there are six top teams ready to fight for the title. This is normal in England. I think also in this season, this will happen.”
“I think Everton are a really good team, very good squad,” Conte added. “They have Koeman, he for me is a good coach, and a good club.
“For sure they are trying to take another step and to try to fight for the title, to try to fight for the Champions League.
“I like this. To have many teams ready to fight for the title increases the level of this league. The level now is already at the top. To improve this level is okay.”