Chelsea beat Crystal Palace: Five things we learned as Blues reach FA Cup Final
Tuchel has sympathy for Gallagher missing out on facing Chelsea in cup
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Chelsea can thank Ruben Loftus-Cheek after his brilliant strike was enough to down Crystal Palace in a tense FA Cup semi-final. With chances far and few between, Thomas Tuchel’s side made theirs count to set up a final against Liverpool.
Chelsea coach Tuchel will leave Wembley this afternoon with much on his mind after a tight victory in the FA Cup semi-final. Crystal Palace gave the world champions plenty to think about but it took one moment of class to separate the two London sides.
And it came from Loftus-Cheek – who spent a season on loan at Selhurst Park and became a fan favourite – but they would have been scorning him after his half-volley left Jack Butland with no chance. The Eagles had a handful of huge chances, including a Cheikhou Kouyate header that he fluffed despite having a free opportunity from a corner while Joachim Andersen had an even easier chance completely missed.
Nevertheless, Chelsea will now be looking to exact revenge on Liverpool in the final after they beat them for the Carabao Cup while Tuchel will be desperate to stop his countryman Jurgen Klopp from claiming an unprecedented quadruple at his expense.
New midfielder needed
One thing is for sure, Chelsea will need to bolster their squad in the summer transfer window and midfield should be an area that is prioritised. Mateo Kovacic’s latest injury adds to a difficult position for Tuchel, where he has contended with similar problems for N’Golo Kante and Jorginho.
Conor Gallagher returning should help but several midfielders are being scouted by the Blues including Declan Rice and Aurelien Tchouameni. Kante and Jorginho will also see their contracts expire at the end of next season and might have to be replaced sooner rather than later.
Mason Mount main man
While this was hardly his best performance in a Chelsea shirt, it was another that proved why Mount is a key player at Stamford Bridge. His second-half strike all but ended any chance of a comeback from Palace while taking his season tally to 12.
With 14 assists to his name as well, this is the England international’s most productive season for the Blues. Now aged 23, his development continues to flourish which can only spell good news for Chelsea.
Jorginho off the boil
This has not been a happy year for Jorginho after the heights he hit last season, where he was instrumental in Chelsea’s Champions League victory and Italy’s sensational Euro campaign in the summer. But the midfielder had a tough afternoon against Crystal Palace, failing to up the tempo when needed.
It even saw Tuchel come rushing out of his dugout to scream at the Italian and, basing on this evidence, it might be some time before Jorginho gets the chance to impress again. His contract is up in 2023 and a return to Serie A has been tipped – is it time to go?
Reece James is back
After a lengthy spell out injured, there were worries that James might take some time to get back to his best. But he has brushed away those fears with an excellent display, defensively at least.
The Englishman can do it all but was played in a back-three role, partly due to Crystal Palace’s tricky attackers Wilfried Zaha, Ebere Eze and Jean-Philippe Mateta. But James did not put a foot wrong and was easily Chelsea’s most impressive player.
Timo Werner remontada?
Tuchel stuck with his gut by keeping Werner in the ine-up to face Palace after his fine displays against Southampton and Real Madrid and he was Chelsea’s most threatening player for most of the match. Hardly difficult, it must be said, after a largely lifeless performance from the Blues.
Nevertheless, just as speculation started to grow over Werner’s future at Stamford Bridge, he has answered his critics with class on the pitch. Whether he stays beyond the summer is another matter but his determination is just one of many reasons why he remains a fan favourite.
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