Conte eager to be long-term fixture at Chelsea

Hazel Gray
May 28, 2017

"It has been a great season", Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said.

Conte's record-breaking Blues stormed England's top flight this season, setting a new benchmark for victories in a 38-game season, failing to win just eight of their matches.

Eden Hazard believes Chelsea can lay down the challenge to their rivals for next season by completing a Premier League and FA Cup double on Saturday.

Yet, while Wenger and his employers will place today's result in the context of two previous FA Cup triumphs in the last three years, as well as Premier League finishes of fourth, third, second and now fifth (with the fourth largest budget), he knows that most wider assessments today will ultimately again fall at either end of the hero/zero spectrum. I'm happy at the club.

"The behaviour of some people during the season, that is what hurts me most", said Wenger.

"For sure, I don't trust that (the final) will be the last game for Arsene", Conte said.

The Gunners have been dealt a massive blow in defence as Laurent Koscielny will serve a three-match ban for being sent off against Everton after a risky foul on Enner Valencia. Gabriel is injured and Shkodran Mustafi is a doubt. "We'll have to find solutions and hopefully I will find the good solutions".

Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal complete the back three alongside the former Germany worldwide, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back from a hamstring strain to start at left wing-back. We've got the league title and they're going to want to win because they missed out on top four.

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The Spaniard hasn't been a regular this season, but has made his mark whenever he's been given a chance, although his lack of defensive awareness could count against him especially if Wenger opts for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the free roles behind the main striker.

Despite Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich subsequently spending three days at the club's training ground, Conte says he never felt under threat.

Nemanja Matic, whose stunning long-range strike crowned the 4-2 semi-final win over Tottenham, is preferred over ex-Arsenal favourite Cesc Fabregas in midfield.

The odds are certainly stacked against the Gunners going into this game, with Arsene Wenger having to deal with a major injury crisis in his defence.

Conte must decide whether to give his 36-year-old center back another moment in the spotlight at Wembley after making more than 700 appearances in 19 years at the club.

An edgy press conference perfectly summed up the backdrop to an FA Cup final that has rarely been more polarised. "They do little and they talk a lot".

He is the only member of the 2012 team that beat Liverpool in the final still at the club.

Other reports by VgToday

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