LONDON — Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said Arsenal will go into next Saturday’s FA Cup final as favourites after missing out on a place in the Premier League’s top four.
Conte watched Chelsea celebrate their title win with a 5-1 rout of Sunderland at Stamford Bridge to secure a record-breaking 30th Premier League victory of the season as John Terry made his final home appearance.
Despite beating Everton at the Emirates, Arsenal finished outside the top four for the first time since 1996 and Laurent Koscielny’s first-half red card means he will be suspended for next weekend’s final.
But Conte said Chelsea would have to work harder to find the motivation required to add the FA Cup to their league title and complete a Double.
“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 after a win in the FA Cup.
“For this reason, we must find motivation and find in ourselves the right anger. The game will be very difficult.
“Arsenal have missed out on the Champions League for the first time in I don’t know how many years, so we must prepare in the right way.
“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.”
Speaking about his decision to substitute Terry to a standing ovation in the 26th minute, Conte said it had been “very important to find the right solution to celebrate a great champion and a great legend for this club.”
He added: “John deserved to start the game and then to be substituted on 26 minutes. He deserved this celebration.
“He wrote Chelsea’s history. I wish, for him and for his family, the best in the future.
“For me, for the club, it would be a great loss next season without him. He helped me a lot this season, on and off the pitch. And now we must respect his decision.”
Conte said the day had contained “a lot of emotions” and added: “To have this day with our fans, our family… it’s great that John finishes like this.
“He deserves to finish playing for Chelsea with a great win. Now we have another chance to celebrate this season with the FA Cup final. We all know this game will be very tough, but a great day.”