Conte: Target trophies

Reaching the Carabao Cup final is very much part of Antonio Conte’s aims for this season, especially having tasted big Wembley occasions already as Chelsea manager.

The boss has explained this is the case in the immediate build-up to hosting Arsenal, for the first of two matches which will decide which of these London sides goes through to the decider of this competition at the end of next month.

‘When you start a season, you try to do the best in every competition,’ said Conte. 

‘For sure now in the league, it is very difficult to fight for the title because there is a team that is doing something extraordinary this season.

Not only for me but for the club and for the players, it will be very important to finish top four because it means next season you will play again in the Champions League, which is the best tournament a big club can play, but at the same time, if there is the possibility to win trophies in your season, you must try to do this. In this case we have reached the semi-final and our task is to try to reach the final and then to try to win this trophy.

‘Last season we won the league and we played the final of the FA Cup and then the Community Shield. It was great experiences for me. I would like to play another final this season and for sure my players will try to do everything to reach this target.’

Conte anticipates Arsenal will field their best available team for tonight’s game, and although this is the second of three meetings this month with the Gunners, it is the schedule rather than familiarity that is setting the challenge.

‘It is difficult to prepare this game because we played [Arsenal] before for a place in the top four, now we are playing against a big team like Arsenal to reach a final in a good competition in England.

‘These are two massive games and usually when you have these type of games, you lose a lot of energy, mental and physical. Then you have to play teams in the league which is also important. This is my only worry, not that we are playing three games versus Arsenal, but because we are playing three massive games in a short time and we have to play the league and we have to play FA Cup.’