Football: Season not over: Antonio Conte

Chelsea's Antonio Conte (centre) at the presentation ceremony for the EPL trophy, on May 21, 2017.
Chelsea's Antonio Conte (centre) at the presentation ceremony for the EPL trophy, on May 21, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

EPL secured, he wants Blues to focus on Cup final so he can emulate Ancelotti's double feat

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte immediately turned his attention to matching fellow Italian Carlo Ancelotti by winning the double in England, after his record- breaking team were presented with the Premier League trophy at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The west London club, crowned champions of England for the sixth time, enjoyed a party after two goals from substitute Michy Batshuayi and strikes from Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro saw them come from 0-1 down to beat bottom side Sunderland 5-1 on an emotionally charged last day of the Premier League season.

The celebrations cannot last too long, however, because Conte's side, who became the first team to win 30 league games in a 38-game top-flight season in England, play the FA Cup final against London rivals Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday.

If the Italian can inspire Chelsea to victory, he will match the achievements of Ancelotti, who guided Chelsea to the double in 2009-10.

However, they will need to re-focus quickly against an Arsenal side looking to make up for the disappointment of missing out on a place in the Champions League.

"This is the real danger for us - to think that this season is finished," warned Conte.

"It's important to celebrate as we did today, enjoying this moment with our families and fans, and celebrate this title because it wasn't easy.

THE RIGHT STUFF

The game will be very difficult. I'm not talking tactically, I'm talking about motivation, the right fire in our soul and our hearts.''

ANTONIO CONTE, exhorting his team to be mentally strong ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Arsenal.

"But, as of tomorrow, I'll try and push a lot to explain that this season could become not just great but fantastic if we are able to win the FA Cup. It's a great opportunity to win the Double."

Conte fears his side could miss out if they let complacency set in. "If you ask me who you think the favourites are now, I think it's Arsenal," he said. "They only have this possibility to find a good season with a win in the FA Cup. We must find motivation and find in ourselves the right anger.

"The game will be very difficult. I'm not talking tactically, I'm talking about motivation, the right fire in our soul and our hearts. If we have this in the same proportion as Arsenal, we have the possibility to do the double and win. Otherwise we risk a lot."

Chelsea had already been confirmed as champions long before facing Sunderland but the way they came from behind to win in style after Javier Manquillo had put the Black Cats ahead in the third minute summed up their season.

The afternoon was not without its emotion, either, on what was Chelsea captain John Terry's farewell to Stamford Bridge after announcing he will be leaving this summer after 22 years at the club.

The defender made a speech, then embraced Conte and started a chant of "Antonio, Antonio" which owner Roman Abramovich, up in his private box in the West Stand, joined in with.

Not even Jose Mourinho in his first spell at Chelsea got that kind of adulation from the man who employed him.

Ancelotti, of course, was sacked the season after winning the Double despite his popularity with players and fans, so nothing is certain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2017, with the headline 'Season not over: Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe