Wolverhampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Antonio Conte has warned his players to avoid complacency as they seek to become just the third club in the history of English football to win the Premier League and FA Cup ‘Double’ on two separate occasions.
A 2-0 fifth round win away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday took Chelsea through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, while they maintain a healthy, eight-point, lead at the top of the Premier League table.
That has left Conte’s team on course to join Arsenal, one of their London rivals, and Manchester United in winning ‘The Double’ for a second time, although the cautious manager refused to take anything for granted.
“I think it’s a little early to talk about this,” Conte said. “But for sure we are in these two competitions.
“In the league we are doing a great job to stay on top of the table. Now, in the FA Cup, we are in the quarter-finals and I’m pleased with this because it means we’re doing very well,” the Italian added.
“We’re working very well but honestly, after this game it’s important to understand that nothing is easy,” explained Conte, who joined Chelsea in pre-season after a stint managing Italy’s national side.
“If someone thinks that for sure in the league Chelsea will become champions, and for sure we can win the FA Cup, it will be very difficult.
“But we know that. We understand we want to stay there and we want to try to reach the end and win some trophies.
“Because when you stay at a great club then your job is this, to try to fight until the end to try to win some trophies. We’re in a good position now but we have to work very hard.”
The biggest crowd at Molineux for 36 years — 30,193 — saw Chelsea negotiate the fifth round tie with second-half goals from Pedro and Diego Costa.
But the top-flight visitors were forced to battle for the victory and withstand a strong first half performance from a Wolves team that is currently struggling at the wrong end of the second-tier Championship table.
– ‘Bow down to Lincoln’ –
Meanwhile Conte also joined football fans all over the country in expressing his admiration for non-league Lincoln City who produced one of the biggest FA Cup upsets of all-time to win 1-0 at Premier League Burnley earlier on Saturday and reach the last eight.
“We must bow down to them,” said Conte. “It’s true this is a great achievement for them and also I think that’s the beauty of football. It is the FA Cup, it’s incredible.
“In Italy, it’s impossible for this to happen. It’s fantastic because it shows that football is incredible and anything can happen if you trust in your work, if you have a great will to fight and to take on the challenge.
“When you start, the challenge can be impossible but instead, Lincoln are now in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and deserve a great compliment from me, from Chelsea and from the whole country.
“It’s a fantastic story, historic, and I’m pleased to live this story with them because now we’re with Lincoln in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. That’s fantastic.”
For his part, Wolves manager Paul Lambert insisted that it would be tough for any of Chelsea’s top-flight rivals to stop them winning both the Premier League and FA Cup this season.
“They’re a very, very good team with a top manager who’s played the game and knows the emotion on and off the pitch,” said Lambert.
“I think it will be a hell of a team to stop them. Without a doubt they could win the league and cup double.
“They’re relentless. They have so many lads who didn’t even play tonight. I looked at the team tonight and thought it might have been a tad weaker, but dear oh dear! It’s going to be a hell of a team that stops them from winning both trophies.”