By Phoebe Evans
Though the FA Cup has arguably lost some of its magic in recent years, this weekend hosted some top football by some of England’s best sides. Going into Saturday afternoon, the prediction of the tie’s outcome split opinion, with Tottenham being the more in-form team yet Chelsea leading the Premier League. However, Chelsea proved many sceptics wrong by showing that they could win against a strong Tottenham side.
Ahead of the game, it was an interesting decision for Conte to drop both Costa and Hazard, arguably two of their most impactful players this season, for Willian and Michy Batshuayi, who haven’t been as popular choices. Putting these two against Harry Kane and PFA young player of the year Dele Alli, who have proved critical in the Tottenham attack, made for an interesting contest which seemingly made Tottenham favourites. However, with Willian scoring two and Hazard later coming on to score and seal the deal for the Blues, it didn’t seem like this was such a bad decision from a confident Conte.
The first half saw Willian convert a free kick after Pedro was brought down outside the box. This was followed by a wonderful header from Harry Kane in the 18th minute. With a ball whipped in by Christian Eriksen, Kane managed to guide it into the back of the net with his back to goal to bring things level. Chelsea came back strongly though at the end of the first half with a powerful run from Victor Moses being stopped illegally by Son Heung-min in the penalty area. It appeared that despite Batshuayi’s desire to take the penalty, Conte had other ideas and insisted that Willian take it to convert his second of the match – another effective executive decision by the Chelsea manager.
The second half of the match saw Hazard and Costa come on for Chelsea, but this wasn’t until Dele Alli had scored a goal from a beautifully placed pass by Eriksen in the 52nd minute. Costa didn’t have much impact on the match, as has been the case for much of the second half of his season, though this didn’t matter as Eden Hazard was able to convert in the 75th minute, and Nemanja Matic scored a stunning goal from outside the area to take the fixture out of Spurs’ grasp.
The Chelsea back three looked strong, which was helped by a superb performance by David Luiz on his 30th birthday. The Brazilian was all over the pitch stopping the strong Tottenham attack from taking advantage of a defence missing Gary Cahill, and it was only with two strokes of genius by Kane and Alli, both supported by Christian Eriksen, that allowed Spurs to score their two goals.
Tottenham will be very disappointed with this result, as though they played well, Chelsea were still able to come away with a good result that means any onlooker of the fixture would have thought the Blues had dominated. However, as we have seen in the Premier League this season, Chelsea’s ability to win matches despite not dominating the 90 minutes has proved effective once again to bring them into the FA Cup final at Wembley against Arsenal.
Saturday’s match at Wembley really showed off the strength of both the London sides and proved why they are the top two in England. For those who thought Chelsea were slipping in quality after their 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford and Spurs closing the gap at the top of the League, were shown that the Blues are a force to be reckoned with. We now just have to wait and see if Chelsea can finish their strong season with an FA Cup win against a temperamental Arsenal side at Wembley on 27th May and seal the Premier League title for the 5th time.
Photograph: Google Images