Chelsea face Arsenal at Wembley in the final of the FA Cup, as they look to cap off their season with a domestic double.
In his pre-match press conference, Antonio Conte had positive news regarding his squad. “All the players are available and I have to make the best decision for the team tomorrow,” he said. Going into this tie, Conte will have two main decisions to make in midfield and the wing.
The Italian will have to choose between Pedro and Willian for a starting spot in the right wing, and between Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic for a spot alongside N’golo Kante in the center of midfield. Needless to say, it is quite the selection headache.
Both Pedro and Willian ended the Premier League season in great form. Their appearance and goal tallies for the season are nearly identical, but Pedro has started more games this season, so it is likely that Conte will stick with the Spaniard for tonight’s starting XI.
Perhaps, the tougher decision would be to choose between Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic. It is not the first time this season that Conte will have to chose between Fabregas’ creativity and Matic’s defensive stability, and it should be interesting to see who makes the starting XI.
This will be the third time these sides face each other. Arsenal won their first meeting in a 3-0 masterclass at the Emirates, while Chelsea won the reverse fixture 3-1. It was at the Emirates after half-time, when Antonio Conte first made the changes to set his side up with a 3-man defence.
“I risked it, I trusted in my idea and in that difficult moment you see the value of the coach. When everything is good your work is sometimes very hard to see, but when there is difficulty you see the value of the coach.” he said, reflecting on the historic decision.
Arsenal, unlike the Blues, will be without two key defenders in the form of Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel but Conte was wary of the danger that the Gunners pose, given that they are playing for pride and trying to save their season, having failed to qualify for the Champions League.
He went on to say: “In this game I think we must focus on ourselves and be very focused. It’s not important which players we will face. We must do what we know. If you start to think about a player missing it’s not important. Arsenal have a lot of top players.”