Conte continues to back Chelsea's plan despite cup exit

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The Blues were unable to hang on to their lead in the EFL Cup semi-final at Arsenal, but the manager retains faith in his "small" squad

Antonio Conte says he has full faith in Chelsea's plan, despite elimination from the EFL Cup semi-finals at the hands of Arsenal.

A bizarre Antonio Rudiger own goal and Granit Xhaka's poacher's finish sent the Gunners to Wembley, as Chelsea were unable to build upon a fantastic start afforded to them by Eden Hazard's seventh-minute opener.

The Blues' transfer strategy has attracted numerous glances in January, with Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch and Ashley Barnes making up a somewhat bizarre list of reported targets.

Edin Dzeko is the latest big man to be linked, but Roma said they had not considered Chelsea's bid ahead of Wednesday's fixture with Sampdoria, in which the Bosnian scored a last-minute equaliser.

With the Premier League seemingly out of reach and runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona to come in the Champions League, nerves may be frayed at Stamford Bridge, but Conte is retaining his faith.

"When the squad is not big you have to always play with the same players," he told a news conference.

"I made a lot of rotations this season. We reached the semi-final and if you see before who played in this competition, we played with young players. I have to do the same in the FA Cup, but then you risk going out. Against Norwich we risked this.

"But it is not right to take only one game to make a decision to understand. There is a programme and a plan.

"It's wrong we have to make decisions only on one game. The situation has always been the same since the summer. I continue to work and I'm very happy with my players.

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"I continue to give everything for the club and the club makes the best decisions for the team."

The Blues are currently third in the Premier League table and face an FA Cup fourth round clash against Newcastle on Sunday. 

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