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FA Cup final manager focus: Antonio Conte v Arsene Wenger

A look at the fortunes of the Italian and the Frenchman this season.

FA Cup final manager focus: Antonio Conte v Arsene Wenger

Chelsea and Arsenal meet in Saturday’s FA Cup final after differing seasons and with managers in contrasting positions.

Blues boss Antonio Conte has endeared himself to supporters in his first year having already delivered the Premier League title.

Gunners counterpart Arsene Wenger has endured one of the worst campaigns of his 20-year tenure despite making it to a third FA Cup final in four years.

Here, we compare the managers.

Tactics

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has changed to three at the back recently
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has changed to three at the back recently (Jon Buckle/Empics)

It was a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in September that saw Conte shift to a new formation based around a three-man defence and wing-backs. The former Juventus boss introduced it at half-time with his side having shipped three goals at the Emirates Stadium. They kept a clean sheet after the interval and then went on a 13-match unbeaten run to storm to the Premier League summit. Often rigid with his own tactics, Wenger reverted to three at the back after a string of poor results saw Arsenal drop out of the title picture. He later admitted he had been thinking about the change since November but it was not introduced until the trip to Middlesbrough on April 17. Arsenal then went on their own decent run, with the only blip coming in their derby defeat at Tottenham.

Demeanour

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been an animated figure on the touchline
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been an animated figure on the touchline (David Davies/Empics)

The contrast between the pair on the touchline is arguably the most striking difference. Conte resembles a coiled spring, ready to bounce out of his technical area at a moment’s notice if he sniffs an injustice against his side – or simply to celebrate a goal in his own unique fashion. Wenger has mellowed over the years and the 67-year-old appears more placid, on the outside at least, often remaining in his seat and silently surveying. He is prone to an outburst if he is unhappy with a refereeing decision but he rarely berates players from the touchline and his apparent serenity can sometimes rile Arsenal fans who see it as indifference.

Cup pedigree

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup six times
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup six times (Adam Davy/Empics)

Conte has delivered league titles in his last four terms as a club manager, adding this year’s success at Chelsea to a hat-trick of Serie A crowns with Juventus. But his cup record is less impressive, with the Italian Super Cups won in 2012 and 2013 the only managerial medals collected. Wenger has revelled in FA Cup football and victory over the Blues would see him become the most successful manager in the competition’s storied history. The Frenchman has already won the trophy six times – the same number as George Ramsay, who won six with Aston Villa between 1887 and 1920.

Season to date

While all of Arsenal’s eggs have been firmly in the FA Cup basket for some time, Chelsea are chasing the double. Conte guided the Blues to a superb Premier League title success after overcoming a shaky start to his managerial career in England. He has been taken into the hearts of the Stamford Bridge faithful and adding the cup to the league crown will only endear him further. Wenger has had it a little rougher. His current contract expires next month and he is yet to announce whether he will sign a new one or depart Arsenal after almost 21 years. An awful run of form in the spring saw his side fall out of the title race, and the top four, while a 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League added further humiliation.

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