Antonio Conte: Chelsea FA Cup win vs Tottenham will not impact title race

simon johnson

Antonio Conte has told his Chelsea players they must forget about Tottenham and only focus on beating Southampton tomorrow.

Chelsea defeated their closest title rivals 4-2 in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday to potentially hand Mauricio Pochettino's side a psychological blow.

The Blues lead Tottenham by four points at the top of the Premier League and are playing 24 hours before them in the League this week.

Spurs have a difficult match at Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, but Conte doesn't want his squad to rely on favours from anyone else to clinch the crown.

He said: "It's important to win for us and then to look at ourselves. That's very important. The most important thing is this: to win.

"But we all know that, tomorrow, it won't be easy. Southampton are a really good team with a good coach, good players, and we must know this.

"I think this (Cup) win (over Spurs) was important for us because we reached the FA Cup Final, a great competition, and it's great to know that, after the championship finishes, we'll have the FA Cup final to play.

"But if you ask me if this win (has an effect on the title race), I don't think so. These are two different competitions. We have six games to go, and it's important we start this 'rush' very well and try and get the points.”

Conte is concerned about the talent in the Southampton team, particularly Italy international Manolo Gabbiadini.

The striker has scored six goals since joining from Napoli for £14.6m in January and has just returned to fitness after injury.

Conte, who was Italy coach between 2014-16, added: “We worked together with the national team. He's a really good player, a talented player. A fantastic left foot. One of the best in the world. It's amazing the way he kicks the ball.

"If someone doesn't know him, he can't understand the talent that this player has. We must pay great attention to him.

"I know him very well from my period in charge of the national team. He didn't play a lot with Napoli so it's hard for an international manager to call up a player who is not playing regularly for his club, but I have great respect for him.

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"He's a really good guy. His sister (Melania) is a great striker in Italy for the national team, also. His family, they were born with a football. Him and his sister.

"My goalkeeping coach started to talk to the keepers to give advice to the players. But they have a lot of good players, Southampton."

Defender Gary Cahill will return to the squad after missing Saturday's match through illness.