Gianfranco Zola is optimistic about Chelsea's chances of challenging for the Premier League title under Antonio Conte and feels the lack of European football this season could prove to be a major advantage.
Chelsea sit seventh in the Premier League table with 13 points from seven games, trailing leaders Manchester City by five points.
Nevertheless, Stamford Bridge favourite Zola remains confident they can go all the way, irrespective of their indifferent start.
"It's an advantage that Chelsea are not in the Champions League," Zola told reporters.
"I think it can be a good point. It will obviously be about how quick they are going to change into the new system and how the players are going to settle. But I have confidence.
"I know Conte is a hard-working coach. I'm sure they will make the most of it. I'm positive about that.
"I think the team started very well and then they had a little setback. But now it seems to be that they are picking up again. It's normal, it's a process and I can see the potential to get better and better."
Chelsea are at home to reigning champions Leicester City on Saturday.