It’s FA Cup Final week and Thomas Tuchel has the chance to win his first piece of silverware as Chelsea manager as the Blues take on Leicester City at Wembley.
An exciting few weeks lie ahead for Chelsea fans with two cup finals as well as a chance to finish in the top four of the Premier League. However, the FA Cup is the first objective for Tuchel to achieve this coming Saturday but how did they get there? We take a look at the Blues’ road to the FA Cup Final.
FA Cup Round Three: Chelsea 4-0 Morecambe (10th January)
Chelsea’s FA Cup run started all the way back on the 10th of January at the third round stage. The competition begun in September at the extra preliminary round stage but it wasn’t until the third round where the Premier League and Championship team would join. The Blues were drawn up against League Two side Morecambe as Derek Adams’ side travelled to Stamford Bridge with Chelsea facing the Shrimps for the first time in their history.
Frank Lampard, a manager under-pressure at the time was desperate for his side to avoid a major cup upset against a side in the fourth tier of English football. To many people’s surprise, Lampard opted to field a very strong starting eleven that included the likes of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech though a number of changes had been made. Chelsea broke the deadlock on 18 minutes as Mason Mount’s long range strike sailed into the bottom corner past the goalkeeper to net on his birthday. Just before the break, it was 2-0 as Ziyech’s cross was headed by Kai Havertz at the back-post into Werner, who tapped into an empty net.
After the break, Callum Hudson-Odoi made it 3-0 to the home side after Ziyech’s brilliant through ball was taken down well by the youngster before comfortably slotting home with ease. There was no doubt that Chelsea were set to be in the fourth round and with five minutes to go, the Blues added a fourth as Havertz headed home Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross as it wrapped up a convincing afternoon at the Bridge.
Round Four: Chelsea 3-1 Luton Town (24th January)
Chelsea’s fourth round match took place later on in January and their opponents were Luton Town, a side a league below the Blues in the Championship. Many had tipped the Hatters to be fighting relegation by to people’s surprise were sitting comfortably in the top half at the time of the game so it wasn’t going to be the easiest of matches. Following a damaging 2-0 defeat to Leicester earlier in the week, Frank Lampard’s job was in serious question and although we didn’t know it at the time, the Luton match was to be his last in charge of the club as he was sacked less than 24 hours after the game.
Nonetheless, the Blues managed to get through to the next round despite a fare few challenges from the visitors. The deadlock was broken after just 11 minutes as Werner’s pass fell to Tammy Abraham, who slotted the ball home first time past Simon Sluga. It got even better for the home side six minutes later, Abraham grabbed his second of the afternoon. An excellent cross by Reece James was headed into the back of the net by the Chelsea number nine with the Blues looking set to book their place in round five. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Lampard’s men as on the half-hour mark, Luton pulled a goal back. James Bree delivered the ball into the middle towards the path of Jordan Clark as the midfielder managed the sneak the ball home past Kepa, who would’ve disappointed to have let that slide past him.
The Hatters came close on a number of occasions to equalising in the second half but with 16 minutes to go, Chelsea restored their two goal advantage. Hudson-Odoi exchanged passes with Billy Gilmour before squaring the ball into the path of Abraham, who tapped home with ease to complete his hat-trick. In the closing stages of the match, the Blues were awarded a spot kick afterward Werner was brought down in the area. The German, who was low on confidence had the chance to round of the win from 12 yards but saw his spot-kick saved by Sluga. It had very little affect on the overall outcome of the match though as Chelsea won 3-1 to progress to the last-16.
Round Five: Barnsley 0-1 Chelsea (11th February)
When the draw for the fifth round was made before the fourth round matches had even taken place, Chelsea knew that, had they got past Luton, they would be playing either one of two Championship sides in Barnsley or Norwich. However, it was to be the Tykes, who defeated the Canaries to set up an interesting tie at Oakwell. Flashback to the 2007/2008 season when the sides last faced in the world’s oldest cup competition when Barnsley pulled off a huge upset by defeating Chelsea 1-0 to reach the semi-finals. New manager Thomas Tuchel will have been looking to avoid a repeat of that result this time round as he took his Blues side to Yorkshire on a cold Thursday night.
The German manager had made an excellent start to life in West London up to that point with three wins from his first four matches in the league but in his fifth game in charge, he experienced some FA Cup action for the first time. On what was a very poor playing surface, one which the Blues will have not been used to playing on, Barnsley looked the better side in the opening stages but Chelsea had Kepa to thank to help keep the score at goalless. The Tykes would have been disappointed not to have broken the deadlock in the first half as both sides went in at half-time deadlocked at 0-0.
The away side made an improvement in the second half and had some good opportunities to take the lead. Hudson-Odoi flashed a shot wide of the target before Antonio Rüdiger headed off target from a free-kick. However, on 64 minutes, Chelsea made the all-important breakthrough. Gilmour played the ball out wide to James, whose cross was swept home by Abraham for his fourth goal of the competition. There was a hint of offside but the replay showed Abraham was behind James when the ball was played to him. Meanwhile, Barnsley were close to equalising after Michael Sollbauer’s effort was headed off the line by the goalscorer Abraham. In the end though, Chelsea made it through despite a very difficult match at Oakwell.
Quarter-Finals: Chelsea 2-0 Sheffield United (21st March)
Chelsea were now two matches away from the final and finally for the first time on their FA Cup journey, faced Premier League opposition in the form of Sheffield United. The Blades were having a torrid time of things in the league, sitting rooted to the bottom and destined for relegation back down to the Championship. Not only that, the club had recently announced the shock departure of manager Chris Wilder with Paul Heckingbottom taking temporary charge until the end of the campaign. However, they were still going strong in the FA Cup and even in the midst of a difficult season had a chance to get to a semi-final at Wembley but it was to be a tough task against the Blues.
Thomas Tuchel had continued his unbeaten start as manager with Chelsea firmly in the top four race as well as reaching the Champions League quarter-finals. Unsurprisingly, the home side dominated the early proceedings and on 24 minutes took a deserved lead. The corner was delivered in by Mount as the ball went past everyone and into the path of Ben Chilwell, whose shot took a deflection off Oliver Norwood with it going down as an own-goal by the Northern Irishman. Christian Pulisic was showing to promising for the Blues and had a few opportunities to made it 2-0 but couldn’t take them.
In the second half, the away side were close to equalising on a few occasions with David McGoldrick flashing a header wide before Oliver McBurnie’s attempt was denied by Kepa. Not long after, the Blades had another opportunity this time through the substitute Rhian Brewster, who struck inches wide of the post. However, deep into stoppage time, Chelsea sealed the victory as Chilwell’s delivery was taken down superbly by Ziyech, who controlled the ball before slotting home past Aaron Ramsdale. Even Sheffield United caused the Blues some problem, they eventually edged through to the semi-finals and booked a first visit of the season to Wembley.
Semi-Finals: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City (17th April)
Thomas Tuchel’s Blues were to face no doubt their most toughest opponent in the FA Cup as they faced Manchester City and Pep Guardiola in the semi-finals and a chance to made it to back-to-back FA Cup Finals. However, City had ambitions of their own in the hope of landing a quadruple but Chelsea were out to bring an end to those dreams. Tuchel has only been in the job for a matter of months but the German had already gotten the better of managers such as Jose Mourinho, Diego Simeone and Jurgen Klopp but Guardiola was next on his list. This match was Chelsea’s 25th semi-final appearance in the FA Cup and the two had faced each other before at this stage back in the 2012/2013 season where City won 2-1 on that occasion.
The Blues started the game well and thought they had taken the lead as Werner’s cross was put away by Ziyech but the flag was up for offside. Not long after, Chelsea came close again as James’ cross was volleyed wide by Chilwell whilst Manchester City were struggling to get going in the match. Nonetheless, both sides were still very much in the contest as the score at the break was 0-0. However, ten minutes after restart, Chelsea broke the deadlock as Mount played Werner down the line, who utilised his pace very well before unselfishly squaring to Ziyech as the Moroccan slotted in from close range.
Tuchel’s side were closing to making it 2-0 after Chilwell lofted the ball over to Ziyech, who got the better of Ruben Dias before seeing his effort saved by Zack Steffen. Meanwhile, Manchester City hadn’t looked good in front of goal and the closest they had come was through Dias, who headed over the bar from a corner. However, in added time, Chelsea looked like they had doubled their advantage after the ball fell into the path of Pulisic, as the American dribbled into the penalty area but striking home but the goal was ruled out for offside. Nonetheless, the Blues managed to secure the victory over City to book their place in the 2021 FA Cup Final as well as their 15th overall.
Road to the FA Cup final: Review
The Blues have had a very good run in the FA Cup this season and Thomas Tuchel’s men will be pleased to have reached the final. During the journey, Chelsea have scored 11 goals and conceded just the one with Abraham scoring the most with four having played a vital part, netting a hat-trick in round four against Luton along with scoring the winning goal away at Barnsley in the fifth round.
The most memorable match will have no doubt been the semi-final win over Manchester City having put in brilliant performance along with Tuchel getting the better of Pep Guardiola. Leicester City and Brendan Rodgers await the Blues in the final as Chelsea aim to win a ninth FA Cup.
Written by Matt North (@MattNorth_)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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