Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has claimed that Manchester United have the best squad in the Premier League following his side’s 1-0 win over Jose Mourinho‘s men in the FA Cup quarter final.
The visitors begun with strong intent, moving forward with confidence and zeal, but found themselves on the receiving end of a Chelsea onslaught following Ander Herrera‘s 35th minute red card.
Conte can now look forward to a semi-final clash with Tottenham Hotspur and the chance of claiming a league and cup double in his first season.
But the Italian, speaking after the game, was quick to acknowledge the strength of Man United’s squad following what was a hard fought win.
“It was a good performance against a strong team with good players,” he said.
“United has the best squad in the league.”
Not a lot has been said about Conte this season. There is, I guess, an air of coldness about him, almost as if you can tell that beneath that professional managerial exterior there is only a deeper, more furious desire to win games, to decipher his opponent. It really doesn’t seem like there is much more to him than that. Animated on the touchline, yes, but also about as vigilant as they come.
And he will know that he just came up against a side with genuine power. Games at Stamford Bridge this season – at least until after Conte switched to a 3-4-3 system in late September – have been pretty routine: just one defeat from 17 home games.
Against Mourinho’s men, however, this was a battle. Chelsea’s men have mastered the art of exploiting space in recent times, but they were stretched by United today. This was a loss, and the overriding mood on the journey back to Manchester will be one of sadness, but this was an illustration of United possessing a level of firmness that could inflict some serious damage next season.