Should Chelsea Take the FA Cup Seriously?

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The Blues are now one of the biggest clubs in the world and rightly we should have lofty ambitions this season.

Having won the Premier League during the 2016-17 campaign under manager Antonio Conte, the London club will be determined to make it two league titles in a row in 2017-18.

The Blues have clinched the Champions League just once in their history, and the fans will expect the team to repeat the heroics this season, or at least reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition.

Conte is a very ambitious manager, and having signed a number of top-quality players in the summer transfer window including midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from AS Monaco, right-back Davide Zappacosta from Torino and striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid, the former Juventus tactician will want to win the Premier League title back-to-back.

After all, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has shown in the past that he can be ruthless if his managers do not win trophies on a regular basis. Carlo Ancelotti lost his job a season after winning the Premier League and the FA Cup double, and Roberto Di Matteo lost his just months after guiding the Stamford Bridge outfit to their first and so far only Champions League crown in 2012.

The FA Cup may be one of the most prestigious competitions in the world and is still dear to the fans, but for a club like Chelsea and for an ambitious manager like Conte, it is probably not a high priority.

After all, winning the Premier League and advancing to the quarter-finals or the semi-finals of the Champions League would be more of a success than clinching only the FA Cup this season.

Although the Blues are second favourites to win the competition according to the latest FA Cup betting odds, Conte may not field his best available team, especially if there are important Champions League and Premier League games around the cup fixtures.

Chelsea, though, should take the FA Cup seriously. The Blues have a strong enough squad to compete in the cup competition. True, Conte may not like Morata to play in the opening rounds of the FA Cup, but Michy Batshuayi could do with some valuable minutes.

The 24-year-old striker can only develop if he plays competitive matches, which he has not much so far in his Chelsea career.

Midfielders Danny Drinkwater and Cesc Fabregas may not be able to start each and every league and Champions League fixture, but the experienced duo could be a handful for any defence in the FA Cup.

Conte has a settled and well-tuned starting lineup when everyone is fit, but he needs to make use of his entire squad in order to keep the players happy and fresh.

The FA Cup is the perfect competition for the Italian to do just that. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich and even Manchester City have better squads than Chelsea, meaning that Conte will probably not win the Champions League this season.

A Premier League and FA Cup double, though, should be on the cards, and that will certainly make the fans happy.