CONTE’S GREAT BALLS OF IRE

Croaky Blues boss ad­mits FA Cup de­feat still sticks in his throat

Irish Daily Mirror - - SPORT - BY JOHN CROSS Chief Foot­ball Writer

AN­TO­NIO CONTE ad­mits Chelsea’s FA Cup Fi­nal de­feat still sticks in his throat. Conte is des­per­ate for re­venge be­cause he feels hard done by af­ter Arse­nal beat his side at Wem­b­ley in May to stop the Blues clinch­ing the Dou­ble. But Conte is wor­ried about los­ing his voice for to­mor­row’s Lon­don derby be­cause he has got a throat in­fec­tion and is on an­tibi­otics. The Chelsea boss, who was strug­gling to talk in his pre­match press con­fer­ence, said: “I hope to solve this sit­u­a­tion and have been tak­ing an­tibi­otics, other­wise… it will be a prob­lem for me. “In my of­fice, when I ar­rive, I close the air con­di­tion­ing. But when you stay on the team bus, I risk a lot, be­cause I suf­fer with air con­di­tion­ing. I think the air con­di­tion­ing is stronger than the cough sweets!” Will the play­ers be re­lieved if he loses his voice? Conte laughed: “I pre­fer to re­cover!” Conte (right) is renowned for his touch­line histri­on­ics and is also an­i­mated as he barks out or­ders to his play­ers. There was no hid­ing from the fact he thinks Chelsea have been robbed the last two times they met Arse­nal at Wem­b­ley. In the fi­nal, Alexis Sanchez’s open­ing goal stood de­spite claims of hand­ball, while Vic­tor Moses was sent off. And Pe­dro also saw red in the Com­mu­nity Shield last month. Chelsea and Arse­nal have met four times since Conte ar­rived last sum­mer and Arsene Wenger’s men have tri­umphed on three oc­ca­sions, al­beit once on penal­ties in the Com­mu­nity Shield. Conte said: “You know very well that in a sin­gle game any­thing can hap­pen, if you face a strong team. In the cup fi­nal, we played against Arse­nal, one of the six top teams in Eng­land. “I re­mem­ber very well that game, we were also a bit un­lucky. If you re­mem­ber the first goal was very strange. I am sure that this goal was dis­al­lowed. In­stead, we started the game 1-0 down. “Then we tried to change the game, then a red card, with 10 men we drew, but then we con­ceded an­other goal. When you lose, there is al­ways dis­ap­point­ment, but I think last sea­son was a great sea­son for us, a big achieve­ment. “Teams are driven by dis­ap­point­ment. I al­ways see a good men­tal­ity from my play­ers. Re­mem­ber af­ter a bad start to the sea­son, the Burn­ley de­feat, I had a good an­swer from my play­ers. This showed great men­tal­ity from my play­ers. “I hope to fin­ish the game with 11 play­ers, yes. Be­cause in the last two games, FA Cup Fi­nal and the Com­mu­nity Shield, we fin­ished two games with 10 men. I hope this. Then, dur­ing the game, I think the best team will win. “For sure, Arse­nal is a big ri­val for the ti­tle. If you see their squad, you can un­der­stand there are a lot of top play­ers. I don’t un­der­stand why they can’t fight for the ti­tle. It’s nor­mal. “They lost only one player now, Oxlade-cham­ber­lain. They kept all the play­ers from last sea­son. In their squad there are many top play­ers.”

WHOLE NEW BALL GAME Chelsea are pumped up as they pre­pare to face Arse­nal.. just like their gi­ant in­flat­able train­ing balls

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