Despite that defeat, Chelsea still boast a five-point lead over second-placed Liverpool, but Ranieri warned that there is still a long way to go in the race as he prepares to welcome his former club to the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
"Yes, they can be caught. They started not so well but after a few matches Conte understood the team and the players. They made a good start and lost to Tottenham after 13 [straight wins] which is an amazing achievement. We expect a lot from them but we are ready to fight and win," he told reporters.
"Yes it's harder [to win from the front]. But I think everyone wants to be up there and not behind, that is much better. But the league is very long and they must be careful. I am a sporting man, I want the best to win the title but of course, if I had to give someone the title, why not Chelsea?
"I expect a strong reaction from them. They are old champions and they want to make up for defeat. Last season was something strange. This season it's normal. Chelsea are in the first position and Leicester are there (15th) - that's all, last season was strange. We'll come back, don't worry."
Chelsea are currently nine points better off than eventual champions Leicester were at the same stage of last season.