Antonio Conte has stated that Chelsea's away clash against Southampton at St. Mary's will be a real test to their league aspirations this season.
Chelsea will confront the Saints on the back of their 2-1 loss to West Ham in the English Football League Cup on Wednesday.
On their part, Southampton held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw away last weekend before piping Sunderland in the EFL Cup in midweek.
Conte, during his pre-match press conference on Friday, said he admires Claude Puel's side's attacking style.
"This test is different. We are playing away against a team in good shape. It's a big test for our ambition.
"Southampton are very strong and I'm impressed with the offensive football they play," Conte said.
The former Juventus boss revealed that Branislav Ivanovic has returned from injury but ruled out Cesc Fabregas.
He described John Terry as a key member of the Chelsea team despite not being at his best in the loss against West Ham.
"The situation for the injured players remain the same. Fabregas remains out but Ivanovic is available."
"John came back from an injury and it's not easy to find the right shape, but I'm satisfied with him and the team.
"John is an important player for us, if he plays or if he doesn't play, for the changing room and the club."
The Italian coach wnt on to stress that the difficult nature of the EPL should serve as motivation for his players not to relent in their effort to achieve their set target.
"This league is very difficult and anything can happen in any single game. For this reason, continuity is crucial."Watch The Premier League Live!! with EXPRESSVPN the #1 Trusted Name in VPN