Chelsea boss Conte expecting wide open contest against Arsenal

Oli Fisher

Antonio Conte has admitted he is expecting a ‘very open’ affair when Chelsea meant Arsenal in the League Cup this week.

Chelsea on Wednesday visit Arsenal in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final, having previously been held to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Christensen has been passed fit to start despite suffering a head injury in Saturday’s 4-0 victory at Brighton, and while Danny Drinkwater, Thibaut Courtois and Gary Cahill face late fitness tests, respective hamstring and back injuries mean Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata will miss out.

That Conte has more history with Arsenal than any other opponent he has encountered during his time in England perhaps adds greater significance to Wednesday’s fixture.

It was after a defeat by Arsene Wenger’s team that he changed systems to the 3-4-3 that inspired them to last season’s Premier League title, and another which denied them the double with a further defeat in the final of the FA Cup.

Their 0-0 draw a fortnight ago disappointed to the same degree their 2-2 draw at the start of the month entertained, and Conte is this time expecting a “very open” affair.

“After a 0-0 draw, for sure the game will be very open,” he said. “To reach the final in this competition. This is a good target for us, and also for Arsenal.

“It’s an important target. Especially for me. In one-and-a-half years here, I have the opportunity to win the league and play the FA Cup final, then the Community Shield and now, maybe, another final in the Carabao Cup.

“To play many finals in this country. This is very important for me and my players.”

Meanwhile, Conte expects Kenedy to imminently complete his proposed loan move to Newcastle.

The Brazilian, 21, rarely features at Stamford Bridge but is a long-term target of Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, and Conte is prepared to let him leave to encourage his development.

Press Association Sport understands his departure could even be finalised by Tuesday evening, with Conte comparing his situation to that of Andreas Christensen, who has proven himself since spending two years on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach.


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“I think he’s going on loan to Newcastle,” said the Chelsea manager, 48.

“For sure, we are talking about a young player with great potential. At this moment of his career he needs to play with great regularity, and to go to Newcastle is a great challenge for him.

“This is a good way for the club. We used the same method for Christensen, and now he’s a Chelsea player, always playing in the starting XI. This is a good opportunity for him.

“At the same time, he must know he must fight. He must be ready to fight to play in Newcastle. Don’t forget, last season in the first half of the season, Kenedy played only 24 minutes at Watford.

“Now he’s more ready. He played with us many games, and now he can show his potential, going on loan.”