Conte comments on Wenger, Alonso and Morata-Giroud link-up ahead of FA Cup clash vs Southampton

After beating Burnley away 2-1, it is time for Antonio Conte and Chelsea to focus on Sunday’s FA Cup semi-finals against Southampton.

We have the chance of reaching the FA Cup final for the second year in a row against the hapless Saints. However, there will be no favourites at Wembley when the Blues take on Southampton.

Conte would hope his boys finish the season as strongly as possible and has called his team to show the desire and passion as they have done in the last couple of games in the Premier League.

Addressing the media ahead of the FA Cup semi-finals, here are few points Conte discussed on Friday.

The hottest news swirling around is about Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal at the end of the season. The Frenchman has confirmed he will step down as Arsenal boss, ending a 22-year-old reign as Gunners manager.

Wenger made Arsenal a dominant force in the modern era, winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, including the double in 1998 and 2002. He revolutionised the game in England and is one of the top managers to have ever graced football.

Conte started his presser by paying tribute to the departing Wenger (h/t Chelseafc.com):

“I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career with Arsenal. To stay at a club for such a long time, 22 years at Arsenal, is great and is a fantastic story.

“He won a lot for that club and for this he deserves a great tribute. I think Arsene is one of the managers who have had a great influence in football. In every moment, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football.

“He deserves great respect, not only from Arsenal supporters but also from the whole world of football. He is one of the greatest managers, who has had a fantastic career with Arsenal and it will be very difficult to see another manager in the future stay at the same club for such a long time. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are two that have done it and are really good stories for football.”

For the first time, our gaffer used Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata together and the duo did well during the win over Burnley. Giroud and Morata linked up well, posed a threat to the Burnley defence and impressed Conte, who hinted that the duo could start up front against Southampton.

“Yesterday I was very pleased for the performances of Morata and Giroud,’ explained the Italian. It was the first time they have played together and they did very well,” Conte was quoted by chelseafc.com.

“Before it was not simple for many reasons to try this option, but now I know that I have this option and it’s a possibility to play them both together on Sunday, and in the future.

“Both these players worked so hard in the game, with and without the ball, and that pleased me.”

One of the shining lights of our win at Burnley was Emerson Palmieri, who made his full debut for Chelsea after signing from AS Roma in January. The left-back showed plenty of energy, zest and determination by moving up and down the left flank.

With Marcos Alonso suspended for Sunday’s game, there is a big chance we could see Emerson again in the left-back role. However, the Italian tactician didn’t guarantee a start for the ex-Roma ace, claiming that he needs to check the player’s fitness before making a decision.

After winning the Premier League in his debut season, I personally believed Conte to wreak havoc this season. However, his tactics have failed miserably this season with many teams finding the answers to unlock our team’s defence which was rock solid last season.

Marcos Alonso

A poor run of form in 2018 has left Chelsea in danger of missing out on a spot in the Champions League next season. We trail 4th-placed Spurs by 5 points and going by our performances in the last couple of league games, Conte wants his team to put everything on the line and finish the season on a high.

“We must have great motivation to finish the season as strongly as possible, in every case,” added Conte.

“Now we have the opportunity to play at Wembley for the second year in the row and we have the possibility to beat Southampton and get to an important final. We have to try and finish in the best possible way.

“There is an important gap between us and Spurs. There are five points between us with four games to go, and it won’t be easy because we depend on Tottenham’s results. We have to try and get three points in every game.

“The only way to keep hope is to play with the same will and the same desire that we did against Burnley, and what we showed in the second half against Southampton. With this will to fight to reach a good result, we have the possibility [to finish in the top four].”

After our last two games at Southampton and Burnley, it is good to see the boys playing with more freedom and confidence. That’s the magic a couple of back-to-back wins can have on the team’s morale.

After missing out on FA Cup last season, Conte must win it this time around to salvage our campaign but first, let us negotiate Southampton on Sunday.

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