Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that the Carabao Cup, a competition a lot of the top-six managers belittled earlier this season, has now become an important target for his club.
Speaking ahead of tonights semi-final second leg against Arsenal the Italian coach said:
“For me, the players and the fans it is an important target,”
“In my first season and a half I have the opportunity to win the league, to play the final of the FA Cup, and play the Community Shield.
“Now I have the opportunity to play another final in the Carabao Cup.
“I have these possibilities, to play many finals in this country. This is very important for me and my players.
“But to get there we have a big game. Arsenal, for sure, want to get there as well.”
Conte and other club’s new found enthusiasm for England’s third most important competition, undoubtedly comes from the fact there is very little hope of anybody catching runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City this season.
Which of course means for other members of the so called top-six, Cup competitions now offer the only realistic chance at silverware.
Chelsea are still alive in both the FA Cup and Champions League. They welcome Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle to Stamford Bridge for their fourth round FA Cup tie on Sunday. Whereas their next assignment in the Champions League will represent a much more trickery affair, with the Blues drawn against the mighty Barcelona.
Tomorrows tie is finely poised with the sides having played out a pretty drab 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge already. Conte has enjoyed the majority of success against most coaches since arriving in England, although he has only managed to beat Arsenal only once in seven attempts. Therefore the experienced Italian coach will be hopeful that his side that start to improve their win percentage in tomorrows fixture.