Authors Posts by Francesca Ceciarini

Francesca Ceciarini

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Antonio Conte rested both Eden Hazard and Diego Costa in the beginning of FA Cup semifinal against Tottenham: a plan – that worked- made also thinking about tomorrow’s night clash against Southampton, that will be really important for the title race.

Asked if he could rest Costa again since his lack of form in the past month, the Italian said:

“Every single player wants to play every game, I know this, but there is also a manager in every team, I have to find the right balance and choose the players that show me great commitment and desire in training.

“I have another day to decide our best XI, I think they are in good condition, they are in good form, for sure tomorrow I hope to see a good performance from my players.”

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Antonio Conte doesn’t agree with Cesc Fabregas, who stated Eden Hazard can become the number one in the world, like Leo Messi, if he would be more selfish in his play

“No, absolutely not. I don’t think a player like Messi is a selfish player, the first target for a champion is to put your talent in the team. For me it’s sad when I listen to this, I don’t think a player must be selfish to reach top level, I don’t want selfish players in my team, I’d rather lose a game than having a selfish player.”

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Conte celebrates at the end of the FA Cup semifinal against Spurs © Francesca Ceciarini

Antonio Conte insists Chelsea depend just on themselves in this title race, without thinking about Spurs results or the win against them in FA Cup.

First of all, the Italian coach praised N’Golo Kante for winning PFA Player of the Year award last night:

“We must be proud for him, it’s a great achievement, he’s working really hard. I hope to continue this way, don’t stop and continue to improve yourself.”

Conte thinks that the French midfielder can still improve:

“A player must give continuity to his performances, N’Golo must continue like this this season, his performances are great, he’s showing great ability with the ball, he plays with vertical passing, he can improve and must continue to improve”

Gary Cahill missed FA Cup semifinal against Spurs due to illness, but now it seems the English defender can start tomorrow night against Southampton

“Yesterday and today he trained with us, I will speak very well to him tomorrow before I take a decision, I will be happy if he can play tomorrow but I have also to rate Ake’s performance.

The Italian boss also confirmed there are no fresh injuries in the team and that Thibaut Courtois, who played against Tottenham anyway, is 100% fit.

Speaking about the side that can face Saints, he said:

“When you have to play this kind of games it’s very important to find the right solution, first of all give the right balance. I have the starting XI in my mind but tomorrow I have to check the conditions of my players because we spent a lot of energy with Spurs.”

Asked if it was an adavantage to play 24 hours before Pochettino’s side, he said:

“First of all we have to win, us, this is the most important thing. We all know tomorrow won’t be easy because Southampton are a good team with a good coach.”

Cesc Fabregas claimed Eden Hazard can reach Leo Messi’s level if he becomes more selfish in his play, a thing Conte doesn’t agree:

“No, absolutely not. I don’t think a player like Messi is a selfish player, the first target for a champion is to put your talent in the team. For me it’s sad when I listen to this, I don’t think a player must be selfish to reach top level, I don’t want selfish players in my team, I’d rather lose a game than having a selfish player.”

Tomorrow night Conte will face Manolo Gabbiadini: the Saints striker worked with him when he was the coach of Italian national team:

“He’s a really good player, a talented player, a fantastic left foot, it’s amazing how he kicks the ball, one of the best left foot in the world. If someone doesn’t know him he cannot understand his potential. He didn’t play so much for Napoli but I selected him anyway. I have a great respect for him, he’s a good guy. His sister also is a great striker, she play for Italian national team as well: they were born with a football in their feet in that family.”

So, knowing Gabbiadini so well, Conte and his staff can give some advice to their players to stop him, especially the goalkeepers:

“My goalkeeper coach ( Gianluca Spinelli) started to coach with the goalkeepers to give advice on him: but also Tadic, Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Bertrand are good players….”.

Asked if the win against Spurs can give Chelsea a psychological advantage in the title race, he replied:

“I think for us this win was important because you reach the FA Cup final, for us it’s great to know that a week after we finish the championship we have to play this final, it’s a great achievement for us. I don’t think it makes a difference in the league, different competitions, tomorrow we have to get these 3 points, just that.

On resting Diego Costa against Spurs in the FA Cup, he said:

“Every single player wants to play every game, I know this, but there is also a manager in every team, I have to find the right balance and choose the players that show me great commitment and desire in training.

“I have another day to decide our best XI, I think they are in good condition, they are in good form, for sure tomorrow I hope to see a good performance from my players.”

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N’Golo Kante has won the PFA Player of the Year award.

The Chelsea midfielder was votes has the best Premier League player in this season by the player of the league.

“It means the world to me,’ the French player said when receiving the prize.

“To be chosen as the Player of the Year is a great honour.”

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Then he added:

“It’s good to still be in two competitions.

“We are going to fight for both and give our best to win these two competitions.”

Kante was also named in the PFA Team of the Year along with team-mates David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard.

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Antonio Conte explained his game plan against Tottenham, where he left Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench at the beginning and then used them to close the game in the last twenty minutes:

“It’s not easy, for sure, to start the game without two really important players: Hazard and Diego,”the Italian coach said after the win over Spurs.

“You must take the responsibility and involve the players in your plan and take this risk.

“Our plan was this. I tried also to tell my player to stay in the game because if we pass more time it’s better for us.

“So I decided in the last 30 minutes to bring on Eden and Diego and then Cesc. Let’s not forget Cesc, he was very important for us.”

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Despite losing 4-2 to Chelsea in today’s FA Cup semifinal Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is proud of the display of his team at Wembley:

4-2 looks like a big result for Chelsea but it’s a game I feel proud of,” he said after the game.

“We gave all that we had. It’s true we lost but it’s the way we wanted to play.

“We respected our philosophy. The team showed great personality and character.

“If you see the game without emotion you will see that Tottenham played much better but they were clinical.

“We are disappointed but now we move on and try to be calm.

“We forced them to play deeper and play the counter attack.

“Congratulations to them and we will try to fight for the Premier League.”

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He was the game changes, as it often happens: Eden Hazard, who started from the bench today, entered at 61′ on 2-2 and after ten minutes – with Spurs pushing to find the 3-2 and trying to control the game- he found an incredible surgical shot that found the opposite corner of the net: 3-2 for Chelsea and Blues on the lead, with Tottenham giving up their hopes to come back to Wembley in one month for the final.

After the final whistel, Hazard commented what happened:

“It is always good to win this game, this sort of game – a semi-final against a London team – so the following from the fans is good.

“We reached the final, which will be my first final in five years with Chelsea for the FA Cup, so I hope to win this cup.”

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Nemanja Matic’s stunning finish sealed the game ( 4-2= with Spurs and the access to FA Cup final when ten minutes where left in today’s derby at Wembley.

Speaking to BBC One after the final whistle, the Serbian midfielder commented:

“It was a nice goal but, first of all, I want to say we are very happy because we are in the final.

“Congratulations to Spurs, they are a great team and it was very hard today. When you score four goals against them you have to win the game, so I’m very happy for the team.

“They are a great team. They are one of the best teams in the Premier League and, like I said, it was very hard today. We scored the first goal, they equalised, we scored the second and they didn’t give up.

“So congratulations to them. They played good football and that is why we are so happy today.”

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Conte celebrates at the end of the FA Cup semifinal against Spurs © Francesca Ceciarini

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte spoke after reaching the FA Cup final with the Blues after beating Tottenham 4-2 at Wembley this afternoon:

“I am proud for this achievement. It is great for the players for me. This is my first season in England and it is great to fight for the title and reach the final of the FA Cup, a great competition. I am pleased for my players and for our fans. Today they were great from the start until the end. Now we have to continue, on Tuesday have another tough game, I hope our fans push us a lot,” he told BBC Sport.

During the season there is a moment as a coach you must take a strong decision. You have to take a risk. If you win the plan worked, if you don’t the responsibility is on you. I think today our plan worked very well.

 “I am very happy for my players and for Michy Batshuayi, he played from the start in an important game. I am happy for Nathan Ake, a young player from our academy. I am happy for Willian, two goals today in a difficult season. For me it is a great achievement.

“Today I also showed I trust all of my team. Eden and Diego knew very well my plan because in this situation it is important to be clear to all of the players. Now I hope on Tuesday to get a great performance from Eden and Diego and the other players.”

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Chelsea are in the FA Cup final after beating Spurs 4-2 this afternoon at Wembley.

It was a spectacular match in North West London, with the Blues finding the lead after just 5 minutes with a wonderful free-kick by Willian, Kane equalised with a perfect low-header ( 18′) and Willian again take Chelsea to lead 2-1 right before half-time ( 43′) with a penalty conceded after a foul of Son on Moses.

Tottenham leveled on 2-2 with Dele Alli in the beginning of the second half ( 52′) but Eden Hazard, a real game changer, found a perfect shot from outside the box minutes after entering the pitch ( 75′).

Matic sealed the match and the qualification with a stunning shot from 30 mt that found the post crossing.

Chelsea will come back to Wembley on Saturday 27 May to try to lift the cup against the winner of Arsenal v Manchester City, that will be played tomorrow afternoon at 3 pm UK time.

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