Thursday 23 November 2017

Conte turns focus to bid for double

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates at Stamford Bridge. Photo: REUTERS
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates at Stamford Bridge. Photo: REUTERS

Antonio Conte warned Chelsea of the "danger" ahead in their quest for a Premier League and FA Cup double, saying Arsenal are favourites for next Saturday's Wembley clash after they missed out on Champions League qualification.

Chelsea won for a record 30th time this season yesterday, beating relegated Sunderland 5-1 before picking up the the Premier League trophy.

And Conte now wants to complete the double in his first season as Chelsea head coach.

"This is the real danger for us, to think that this season is finished," Conte said.

"To win the title this season becomes great. This season can become fantastic if we are able to win the FA Cup. We must find the right motivation.

"It's important for us to celebrate, but then to find the right fire in our soul to be ready to work very hard this week to prepare and to feel in the right way this game.

"This is a great opportunity to win and to do the double."

Arsenal missed out on the top four for the first time in manager Arsene Wenger's near 21-year tenure, finishing fifth and failing to qualify for Europe's elite club competition.

Conte added: "If you ask me who is the favourite now, I can tell (you) it's Arsenal.

"Arsenal now has only this possibility to find a good season after a win in the FA Cup. For this reason we must pay great attention.

"We must find in ourselves the right motivation, the right anger. The game will be very difficult.

"After I don't know how many years Arsenal missed the Champions League. We must have our antenna very high and prepare in the right way.

"I'm not talking about tactical game, I'm talking about motivation, right fire in ourselves, in our soul, in our heart.

"If we have this in the same proportion as Arsenal, or more, we have the possibility to do the double. Otherwise we risk a lot."

A tearful John Terry received a rousing reception and a guard of honour from team-mates on his final appearance at Stamford Bridge.

The 36-year-old former England captain appeared for the Blues for the 717th time, starting in the Premier League for the sixth time this season. It was his 580th game as captain of the team.

The defender started against Sunderland but came off midway though the first half in a pre-planned substitution.

Terry, for the fifth time, and Gary Cahill lifted the Premier League trophy after the 5-1 win, before Terry addressed the supporters.

"One of the most difficult days of my life," said Terry, as he paused to watch a highlights reel of his career on the big screen and waited to speak amid choruses of his name.

Terry had led Chelsea through a guard of honour ahead of kick-off, walking out on to the Stamford Bridge playing surface with son Georgie and daughter Summer. The twins celebrated their 11th birthdays last week.

His speech was filled with thanks: for the supporters, the managers and team-mates from his distinguished playing career and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, whom he said "cares about this football club, from the under-eights to the first-team".

He reserved particular praise for his wife Toni and two children, who were alongside him on the pitch. All four of them were in tears.

Addressing the supporters, Terry said: "Thank you will never, ever be enough, but I'll tell you what: I'll be back here one day.

"I'm going to be supporting the players and the club from the bottom of my heart.

"You've given me everything from the age of 17 when I first started out.

"You picked me up when I was down, sung my name when I've had bad days and disappointed you as well."

Conte afterwards said: "It was very important to find the right solution to celebrate a great champion, a great legend for this club."

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