Antonio Conte is optimistic about Chelsea’s prospects in the new year, despite admitting that it is “not realistic” to expect his side to catch up with the runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The Italian cut a positive figure following the Blues’ 5-0 thumping of Stoke on Saturday, and spent a moment to reflect on the year that has been. “This was a fantastic year,” the 48-year-old told reporters. “To win the title in England is not simple, and to be able to do this at your first chance, I will remember this year in my mind forever.”

Despite admitting that City are “on a great run” and that Chelsea are increasingly unlikely to retain their Premier League crown, Conte pointed to various other opportunities for his players to win silverware in 2018.

The Italian said: “We are still involved in the Carabao Cup, where we play in the semi-finals against Arsenal. Last year, we were eliminated in the fourth round against West Ham.”

Conte stated that he intended to rotate his full squad throughout the busy winter season, with plenty of “great games to face” in the months ahead. He added: “[Last season] we reached the final of the FA Cup, and it won’t be easy to repeat this. In February we restart the Champions League against Barcelona.”

Header image by Clément Bucco-Lechat [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons