Tuchel: we are grateful to have another final at Wembley
CHELSEA TO FACE LIVERPOOL AGAIN, THIS TIME IN
CHELSEA manager Thomas Tuchel expressed his gratitude to have another cup final to look forward to after goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount downed Crystal Palace in the last four of the FA Cup at Wembley.
The Blues saw the defence of their Champions League title end in midweek after they lost 5-4 to Real Madrid on aggregate, and with Manchester City and Liverpool out in front in the Premier League it left this competition as the club’s only realistic opportunity to add more silverware to the cabinet.
With Roman Abramovich also in the process of selling Chelsea and therefore his trophy-laden era coming to an end, victory on their 27th appearance at the new Wembley was even more significant.
Substitute Loftus-Cheek broke the deadlock in the 65th minute before Mount wrapped up the victory. It sets up another meeting with Liverpool – who beat the Blues in the Carabao Cup Final in February – on May 14, but Tuchel is not interested in thwarting the Reds’ quadruple bid.
“I don’t care about their other titles,” the German insisted. “We want to turn things around (against them) but it will not get us the Carabao Cup title back.
“We are here, we were here last season in the FA Cup Final in a game that means an unbelievable lot for us because it is the FA Cup, the most prestigious and most traditional cup in the world maybe and played at Wembley – so there are not a lot of bigger games to be a part of.
“That is why we are grateful and we will be well prepared because we play against one of the strongest teams in the world.”
Chelsea will hope it can be third time lucky in the FA Cup after Tuchel’s side lost to Leicester last May, while his predecessor Frank Lampard suffered defeat to Arsenal in the 2020 final.
The Blues boss admitted they will need some luck to beat Champions League semi-finalists Liverpool, who booked their place in next month’s showpiece with a 3-2 victory over Manchester City on Saturday. Tuchel added: “It will be another hard fight, given the quality and run of form of Liverpool. It will be unbelievably difficult to beat them, but this is what a cup final is all about.
“It is about winning and we need to try to find a way to beat them. We need a bit of luck and everything at a top level.
“Of course it makes the season so much sweeter if you have at the end a final you can win, but as we all know in a final, you need to compete against each other. We experienced last season, and already this season, that sometimes you give everything and it can be not enough, but we will try to find a way.”
Loftus-Cheek broke the hearts of his former loan club Crystal Palace by firing home on the half-volley after Eagles defender Tyrick Mitchell had been dispossessed near his own penalty area by Cesar Azpilicueta.
It was Loftus-Cheek’s first goal in nearly three years – a period where he has suffered a serious Achilles injury and spent time with Fulham before he has forced his way into Tuchel’s plans.
“Hopefully it is a big moment for Ruben,” Tuchel said.
“It was nice because he is normally a very calm, quiet guy and to see him like this and jumping and celebrating a goal was good.
“He is the opposite of overconfident – we need to instil this confidence into his body and into his game. These are the next steps for him.”
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was left to reflect on what might have been, with Cheikhou Kouyate denied by compatriot Edouard Mendy in the first half when the tie was goalless.
“I don’t think it was bad luck. We tried to play our best but Chelsea were too good on the day for us,” the five-time FA Cup winner admitted.
“Big games like this, against these teams, when you are in a really good period you need to take your chances and we didn’t score.
“But I am proud of the team with their approach of this game. In the first half we were brilliant but we couldn’t score.”
Meanwhile, forward Wilfried Zaha apologised after the game for not acknowledging the vociferous support of the Palace fans at the final whistle.
Disappointed by the outcome, Zaha wrote on Twitter: “Gods will. Really wanted it for our club and amazing fans but wasn’t meant to be sadly but as usually (sic) thank you for the unmatched support we appreciate the CPFC family.
“Sorry for not clapping the fans as my emotions got the best of me”.