Conte happy not to concede vs. Arsenal in Carabao Cup draw
LONDON -- Antonio Conte insisted that Chelsea have not surrendered control of their Carabao Cup semifinal tie after being held to a goalless draw by a resilient Arsenal side at Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League champions had the better of possession and registered six shots on target to Arsenal's three, with Andreas Christensen and Eden Hazard wasting their best opportunities in the second half, but were ultimately held to a second consecutive 0-0 after Saturday's FA Cup draw against Norwich City.
After the match, Conte admitted that his players must work in training to be more ruthless in matches, but claimed that Chelsea still have an equal chance of progressing to next month's final at Wembley after preventing Arsenal from scoring an away goal.
"For sure I think it would be better to win the game, [even] 1-0," the Italian said. "[But] I think the positive thing is we didn't concede a goal and when you play a semifinal with two games, to play at home and not concede could be important.
"We tried to win. We shot 20 times. We created chances to score, but we didn't take them. I think in the last period [of the pitch] we must be more clinical, better offensively. Otherwise, if you don't score, if you're lucky the game finishes in a draw.
"After Norwich it's the second nil-nil in a row. We have to reflect on this and try to improve during training sessions and improve on this situation."
Asked if he thought Arsenal had gained the upper hand with the result, Conte replied: "I don't think so. Because I think we have the same probability to go and to play the final at Wembley -- 50-50. Also because don't forget, not to concede a goal at home could be very important for the second leg.
"At the same time, we know that to play at the Emirates Stadium is not simple, not easy. We are ready. We deserved this opportunity to play the semifinal and we must be very happy to do this."
Chelsea have failed to score in seven matches this season, a scenario that had occurred only twice at this stage of the last campaign. Conte, however, dismissed the suggestion of any more fundamental problems with his team's attack.
"Honestly, I think you must be worried if you don't create chances to score and it becomes very difficult to score," he explained. "This team in every game creates chances to score. This season maybe we're a bit unlucky. We're not so good to take these chances.
"My speech is not [only] for the strikers. For example, today Christensen had two fantastic opportunities. I think we have to improve with all the players, not only the strikers or midfielders. When you have the chance you have to score, especially in these games."
Wednesday's match also marked the second use of VAR in English football. The technology was consulted by referee Martin Atkinson twice in the first half and once in the second to examine a potential penalty collision between Cesc Fabregas and Danny Welbeck in the Arsenal box.
No spot kick was awarded, but Conte is optimistic that the system can improve the standard of officiating.
"I am positive, very positive," he continued. "Because if there is a big doubt during the game then it is right for the referee and the other referee to watch the video and to check and make the best decision.
"Everyone wants less mistakes during the game. This could be positive, [but] for sure you have to improve and to understand that when you start to use VAR you need to add more extra time. For example in Italy, when there are doubts two or three times during the game, the extra time is seven, eight or nine minutes."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.