After a poor pre-season where Chelsea lost most of their games, N'Golo Kante has admitted that the champions will find it tough in the new Premier League campaign which takes off this Friday.
Chelsea lost friendlies to Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, and were defeated on penalties by Arsenal in Sunday's FA Community Shield.
But Kante, who was voted last season's Premier League Player of the Year, is looking ahead to the new season.
Chelsea start their title defence against Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and Kante is eager to get going.
"It’s going to be tough because a lot of teams have strengthened, which makes it more difficult," Kante told Chelsea's official website.
"The season starts next weekend and we have to be ready."
Despite the defeat to Arsenal, Kante claimed Chelsea were as good as the Gunners on Sunday.
"I thought we played well," the Frenchman said.
"We scored the first goal and we were close to winning. After Pedro’s red card they scored and it became more difficult for us.
"In the end they won on penalties, but when it’s like that you can win or you can lose."
Chelsea have strengthened their squad with the arrivals of Anthony Rudiger from Roma, Timo Bakayoko from Monaco and Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid.