Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace: Five things we learnt from another Chelsea success at Wembley

Mason Mount celebrates after getting Chelsea's second against Crystal Palace | Image credit:
Mason Mount celebrates after getting Chelsea’s second against Crystal Palace | Image credit:

Will it be third time lucky for Chelsea under the Wembley arch in the FA Cup final?

Two narrow one goal final defeats in the last two years have seen the chance of a ninth FA Cup for Chelsea slip away. However, that dream has been rekindled after a strong showing against an impressive Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.

A lethargic opening half should’ve seen the Blues trail at half time if it wasn’t for Edouard Mendy’s low save from a Cheikhou Kouyate drive. Though, a tactical switch from Thomas Tuchel at half time saw Ruben Loftus-Cheek move forward alongside Mason Mount as an eight leaving Jorginho alone in the pivot. A change Crystal Palace players have publicly admitted they found hard to cope with and led to the English duo getting on the scoresheet in quick succession to secure a spot in the final on May 14 against Liverpool.

Timely Timo Werner’s return to form continues against Crystal Palace

It’s a phrase that can be used to describe several Chelsea players time at the club but for the German it has been a rocky rollercoaster ride. Moments of hope mixed in with the all too familiar feeling of frustration. But he may just be turning a corner.

Two goals against Southampton, a goal and assist that nearly saw the miraculous comeback pulled off against Real Madrid and the assist for Mount’s goal on Sunday. He arguably deserved another assist, but Romelu Lukaku spurned the chance.

It was perhaps the display against Crystal Palace at the weekend that was the most positive as he showcased his all round game and what he can provide to the team away from goals and assists. With the summer looming and new owners set to come in, he is staking a strong case to remain a Chelsea player into the 2022/23 season.

Reece James’ dominant defensive display

On Wednesday night in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid, Reece James was moved from his usual right wing back position to right centre back to deal with the threat Vinicius Jr posed. The Brazilian winger had caused Andreas Christensen a headache a week beforehand at Stamford Bridge, but you wouldn’t have noticed that from the Englishman’s performance.

On Sunday his task was the same, this time keeping the Eagles’ main outlet Wilfred Zaha quiet and once again he came out victorious. Four out of five duels won alongside his other defensive contributions saw Zaha finish with 32 touches and no shots. Consequently, Crystal Palace struggled to spend regular time in Chelsea’s half and present them with the threat the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal have felt this season.

Also, the manner in which James moved around the pitch was the sign of someone assured in their role despite it being a slightly unfamiliar one and his versatility adds another string to his bow.

The Wembley day out Ruben Loftus-Cheek deserved

At the end of the 2018-19 season, everything seemed to be falling into place for Loftus-Cheek. He had been to a World Cup the previous summer and then impressed under Maurizio Sarri. Though, a major injury in a post season friendly in America would derail all his hard work of the last two seasons.

For many, this could spell the end of their careers at the top but after a loan with Fulham, he has fought back into the Chelsea first team this season and earnt the admiration of Tuchel. His sweetly struck first time shot, his first Chelsea goal since injury, not only demonstrated what he is capable of but capped off a fantastic week and one that would’ve made the past few years all worth it.

Jorginho concerns on show against a compact Crystal Palace

Discussion was rife throughout the course of last summer’s transfer window about fans’ concerns with the club’s midfield options and that has continued over the months of this season. Sunday’s game, particularly the first half, was a perfect example why there is that conversation.

Undoubtedly the forced substitution of Mateo Kovacic early on had an effect as very few can match the energy he brings to a game on and off the ball. His midfield partner Jorginho in many ways is a completely opposite player. The Italian prefers time on the ball to pick his pass and dictate play but against sides like Crystal Palace who come with the intention of sitting deep in a compact shape, his shortcomings are apparent. Notably he was berated by Tuchel from the sidelines during the first half as his passive nature allowed Patrick Vieira’s side to gain a foothold in the game.

Whilst he played a role in the opening goal after being afforded more time and space on the ball from the aforementioned tactical switch, similar frustrations from manager and fans were evident once again.

Written and edited by Harrison Burridge (@hburridge2)

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