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(Reuters) - Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has played down talk that Chelsea have an advantage over their Premier League rivals by not playing in Europe this season, saying it is harder to maintain momentum when they do not play as regularly.
Table-toppers Chelsea, who finished 10th last season, are the only team in the current top four, which also includes Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Arsenal, to have not featured in a European competition this campaign.
"The players don't want to relax. Everybody wants to play in Europe and if you're in the rhythm of playing a game every three or four days, sometimes you can play better, even though it's harder at the end of the season," Courtois told British media.
Antonio Conte's men, however, appear to be running away with the league title as they hold a nine-point cushion over the chasing pack after 24 games.
"The other year, when we were champions, we had European football so I don't think it makes a big difference," Courtois said.
Chelsea travel to face 12th-placed Burnley on Sunday.
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams