LONDON: Manchester City’s quadruple dream is dead after suffering defeat in Saturday’s FA Cup semi final to Chelsea, but Thomas Tuchel and his players can still end their season with a trophy.
Chelsea, deserved winners, will face Leicester or Southampton in the final.
Manager Tuchel made a number of bold calls, including leaving Kai Havertz and the in-form Christian Pulisic on the bench, and they paid off.
City, on the other hand, were never able to break down the well-drilled Chelsea defence. From the contest, four major things stood out.
Chelsea paid €50 million for a goalscorer last summer, with Timo Werner arriving at Stamford Bridge having scored 28 times in 34 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig last season.
It has since become clear that the German international isn’t the true number nine many thought he was, but his Wembley display demonstrated why he is still one of Tuchel’s most important players.
Werner was the difference for Chelsea, breaking in behind the City defence to square for Hakim Ziyech to score the winner. This came from a very deliberate ploy by Tuchel – see the disallowed goal after six minutes which was almost identical to the winner.
Indeed, much of Chelsea’s attacking play was geared towards exposing the Premier League table-toppers in the full back areas (more on that later).
There are times when fielding a forward like Werner doesn’t make much sense, but the 25-year-old gives Chelsea another dimension in matches like this one. City were never able to truly suffocate the Londoners even as they sat deep in the final 20 minutes due to the threat of Werner running in behind.
This was crucial to the Chelsea game plan.
There was enough in this performance from Chelsea to suggest they are building something special under Tuchel. Talk of a title challenge under Frank Lampard after £220 million worth of summer business proved to be wide of the mark, but the new man in the job is putting in place a system to harness all the talent now at Stamford Bridge.
Much has been made of Chelsea’s defensive solidity with Tuchel at the helm, and with good reason – they have kept 14 clean sheets in 19 games – but the way the German has got his midfield unit operating so effectively also warrants recognition. Jorginho and N’Golo Kante give Chelsea as good a basis as any of their rivals.
Sheffield United’s two-season spell in the Premier League is over after their relegation back to the Championship was confirmed with defeat to Wolves.
Willian Jose’s second-half strike, which finished off a clinical counter attacking move for the hosts, secured all three points.
The Blades have also matched an unwanted record with no team being relegated earlier in a season. They join Huddersfield (2018/19) and Derby (2007/08) in having their status confirmed after 32 games.
United have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this season with only four wins in 32 matuches and 14 points gained from a possible 96.
Newcastle’s earlier victory over West Ham pushed United closer to the drop, with the Wolves result leaving them 19 points adrift with 18 left to play for.
Saturday’s loss was their 26th in the league this season. The Blades were battling to avoid being tagged as the worst team in Premier League history with two points on the board after 17 games.