Arsene Wenger will be considered “one of the best managers in history” even if Arsenal lose the FA Cup final, says Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
Frenchman Wenger, 67, has been Gunners boss since 1996 and his current deal expires in the summer.
Wenger said his future will be decided at a board meeting after Saturday’s FA Cup final against the Blues.Wenger has faced numerous protests by Arsenal’s own supporters this season, calling for him to quit as boss.
But he could end the season with a seventh FA Cup triumph – as many times as Liverpool have won the famous trophy.
Conte believes Wenger will still be Arsenal’s manager next season. don’t think this will be the last game for Arsene, he deserves to be working for Arsenal,” added the Italian, who is seeking the Double in his first season at Stamford Bridge after steering the Blues to the Premier League title.
“He has done a fantastic job.
“Sometimes in England I think you undervalue the achievement of qualifying for the Champions League. Only this season they haven’t qualified for the Champions League.
“When you stay for a long time, for sure he is a good manager. We must consider him to be one of the best managers in history.”
‘Chelsea want more’
Chelsea have not won the FA Cup since 2012 when Roberto di Matteo was in charge when they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley.
Forward Eden Hazard is determined to lift the trophy for the first time since moving to Stamford Bridge in June 2012.We want more, you always want more,” said Hazard, who scored 16 goals this season to help his team win the league.
“For Chelsea, for such a big club like this, you need to win one, two, three trophies every season if you can.
“Now we have the possibility to win another trophy so all the players are ready for that. It’s such a great competition for the fans.”
I give my medals away – Wenger
Wenger will be the FA Cup’s most successful manager if the Gunners beat Chelsea.
That would move him one ahead of George Ramsay’s six triumphs with Aston Villa.
However, Wenger has no souvenirs of his previous successes.
“I have no medals at home from anything. You come to my home, you will be surprised,” he said.There is no trophy, no medal, nothing. I always give them out.
“There is always a guy at the club who did not get a medal – a member of staff – so I have given it to him.
“So you are always a medal short and you will always find someone who takes it.”
‘I’d like Wenger to win… and leave on a high’
Next week’s board meeting is a pivotal moment in Arsenal’s history whatever the result at Wembley, according to Gunners goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson.
The 75-year-old, who played for Arsenal from 1963 to 1974, said he wanted Wenger to win at Wembley and then leave on a high.
“I love this guy,” Wilson told BBC Sport.
“I think he has been amazing for the game in this country.
“There’s a part of me that would really love Arsenal to win this final, and for the team to play well, and maybe in the heart of hearts I would like Arsene to go while he has all that respect because it’s all about respect.”
‘Chelsea will win comfortably if they dominate midfield’
Four-time Chelsea FA Cup winner Frank Lampard: “In [midfielder] Mesut Ozil and [forward] Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal have two players who can unlock any door at any moment at any level.
“Ozil’s ability is not in doubt but obviously in the modern game you need everyone to work at 100% off the ball too.That is the thing that has come into question occasionally with him, but the fact remains that he is a world-class player. He could maybe score more goals but, when he is on his game, I don’t think there are many better than him with a final pass.”
Two-time Arsenal FA Cup winner Ian Wright:“For me, as disappointing as it is to not be in the Champions League, winning the FA Cup is always great and it would be an especially good final to win because of who Arsenal are playing against.
“Chelsea have been by far the best side in the Premier League this season, so beating them would go a long way to showing that Arsenal have got a team that can compete against the best and that they should be doing a lot better in the league.”
Former Liverpool defender and 1986 FA Cup winner Mark Lawrenson: “The key area for Arsenal is not their defence, or their attack – which is very strong. It is in midfield.
“Chelsea will win comfortably if they take control of that area but Arsenal should not be short of numbers in there. It is imperative for the Gunners that they keep the game tight and fight and scrap like they did in their semi-final against Manchester City.”