Beating Spurs in FA Cup has no bearing on league, says Conte
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 25, 2017 11:01 AM
Chelsea's team manager Antonio Conte celebrates with Chelsea's John Terry, right, at the end of the English FA Cup semifinal soccer match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley stadium in London, Saturday, April 22, 2017. Chelsea won 4-2. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
JUSTIN PALMER, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — If former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was a master at playing mind games with his rivals, his Italian successor Antonio Conte seems reluctant to follow suit.
Mourinho, now at Manchester United, might well have made much of Chelsea's 4-2 victory over Premier League title rival Tottenham in an enthralling FA Cup semifinal on Saturday.
But Conte resisted the temptation on Monday to taunt his rival, which has won seven league games in succession to put pressure on the Italian's league leaders.
Asked if beating Spurs in the FA Cup gave his side a psychological edge for the title run-in, Conte replied: "I don't think so. They are two different competitions. It's great to know that we have a final to play a week after the championship finishes.
"We have six games to go. We need to start this rush (of fixtures) with a win and to keep the lead."
Chelsea, which has topped the standings for the last five months, held a 10-point advantage last month but slip-ups against Crystal Palace and Manchester United in April have cut its advantage to four points with six games to play.
The leader hosts Southampton on Tuesday, while Spurs plays away at Crystal Palace 24 hours later.
Chelsea prevailed against Spurs despite Conte surprisingly dropping playmaker Eden Hazard and Diego Costa to the bench. Hazard made a big impact when he came on to replace Willian, who scored Chelsea's first two goals, just after the hour. The Belgian scored Chelsea's third goal and teed up Nemanja Matic for the fourth.
Conte stopped short of confirming he would restore both Hazard and Costa to his starting team on Tuesday, saying: "I have another day to decide best 11 - they are in good condition, good form."
Here is a look at the rest of this week's Premier League games.
CRYSTAL PALACE vs. TOTTENHAM
"We move on", was the firm message from Spurs manager Mauricio Poccetino after its FA Cup semifinal defeat.
"The motivation is always there and we will find it again because it's our passion to play football," the Argentine said.
After an impressive 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, Palace manager Sam Allardyce is looking to preserve his remarkable record of never being relegated from the Premier League during his managerial career.
Victory lifted Palace up to 12th place on 38 points ahead of Wednesday's game.
ARSENAL vs. LEICESTER
Arsenal has slipped to seventh place, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City but has games in hand on the sides above it. Manager Arsene Wenger was encouraged by the character his side showed to come from behind to defeat Manchester City in their FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Sunday.
"I felt as well that what was questioned was answered on the pitch," the Frenchman said, responding to claims by critics that Arsenal lacked spirit.
Wenger's side should be confident of three points, with Leicester having not won a league game against Arsenal since 1994.
Last season's clash at the Emirates produced late drama with Danny Welbeck scoring Arsenal's winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Defeat ultimately did not cost Leicester, which went on to be crowned champion.
MIDDLESBROUGH vs. SUNDERLAND
Hopes of avoiding relegation look bleak for both clubs from northeast England, with the teams firmly entrenched in the bottom two places.
Middlesbrough is without a win in 16 Premier League games, a run stretching back to Dec. 17, and appears set for an immediate return to the Championship. It is not difficult to pinpoint the team's problem - it is the league's lowest goal scorers, having managed just 23 all season. Steve Agnew's' appointment as interim manager last month after Aitor Karanka's dismissal has brought no upturn in fortunes.
Sunderland, which is three points behind Middlesbrough but has a game in hand, has lost six of its last eight matches in the league.
MANCHESTER CITY vs. MANCHESTER UNITED
Both sides might have expected to be challenging for the title at this stage of the season, rather than battling it out to secure a top-four finish and a Champions League place. City is fourth, just one point and one place above United.
City hoped for silverware in Pep Guardiola's first season as manager but that will not happen. The Spaniard must rally his team after the FA Cup defeat by Arsenal but has injury concerns over David Silva, Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero for Thursday's derby.
Mourinho has indicated he could make changes following a 2-0 win at Burnley on Sunday, with the Portuguese coach seemingly prioritizing United's bid to win the Europa League - a prize that carries automatic qualification into the Champions League.
United face Spain's Celta Vigo in the semi-finals and the Portuguese said: "We cannot give the club the Premier League, we have a 25 per cent chance to win the Europa League and we have to put everything on it."