Chelsea will be in the FA Cup final for the second successive season after wrecking Manchester City’s quadruple hopes.
Hakim Ziyech scored the only goal of the game as Thomas Tuchel’s Blues produced a pramatic performance to keep Pep Guardiola’s men at arm’s length throughout.
Chelsea started well, and Ziyech tapped the ball into the net just five minutes in, but the effort was immediately ruled out due to an offside against Werner.
But the first half was a largely tentative affair with City inching back into the contest – but creating little of note.
Kevin De Bruyne went off with an ankle injury early in the second period, before Ziyech broke the deadlock after 54 minutes, tapping in after Werner had broken down the left.
City would dominate possession from then on, but did little to really test Kepa Arrizabalaga on a frustrating day for Guardiola’s champions-elect.
De Bruyne KO
Kevin De Bruyne hobbled out of the match in the second half’s opening exchanges with an apparent right ankle injury.
The Belgium playmaker’s loss was a blow for City, who had to bring Phil Foden off the bench.
De Bruyne’s exit came about innocuously enough; he had possession, was being chased by a scampering N’Golo Kante, and seemingly felt a reaction as he planted his foot on the Wembley turf. Immediately he knew something was wrong.
For City’s sake in the coming weeks, you hope it’s nothing too serious. But the way it happened, and the fact replays showed nothing apparently serious that could have caused it, is a cause for worry.
Hakim Ziyech has spoken recently about his difficult debut season in English football, following his £38million switch from Ajax.
And certainly, the Moroccan hasn’t shown what he’s truly capable of since arriving at Stamford Bridge.
But there have been moments throughout. A pass here, a freekick there, moments where his genuine quality – especially with his left-foot – have stood out.
His goal was pretty simple – tapping in after Timo Werner had done the hard work. An earlier similar effort had been ruled out.
Not very City
When did you last see Manchester Citycreate so little?
Because, pure and simple, there wasn’t much forthcoming from Guardiola’s side in attack here.
Phil Foden was a bright spark when he came on, there were a couple of smart bursts from Raheem Sterling too.
But largely, they were smothered extremely effectively by Chelsea, who then used Werner’s pace smartly on the break.
He’s 36 now, but Thiago Silva remains an outstanding big-game defender.
There’s a reason Tuchel wasn’t best pleased that PSG let him go last summer when the German wanted to keep him.
And that’s because, even at his current age, he’s a fantastic leader, whose positioning is exemplary and who reads the game as good as anyone out there.
Throw in that he’s playing at the heart of a back three right now – which protects him, no question (we’ll ignore the West Brom nightmare) – and his ability to organise his teammates really shines through and is a key reason for their much improved defence under Tuchel.
That he played with a back problem for the most part made it all the more remarkable.
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Chelsea could name nine substitutes at Wembley, along with their starting XI, but still Tuchel could find no space for Tammy Abraham.
That’s despite the England striker having four goals to his name in the competition thus far and still being the Blues’ leading goalscorer in all competitions.
Some teammates were said to be shocked by the 23-year-old’s absence, while his long-term future appears to be in question.
Certainly it seems he’s only fourth choice right now in the central striking role, behind the rotating cast of Kai Havertz, Olivier Giroud and Werner.
“There isn’t much on Tammy but he’s lost a little bit of confidence recently and we’ve taken the hard decision to leave him out today,” said Tuchel.
“It was a tough decision but we decided to go with Timo, and with Kai and Oli Giroud from the bench. We have other injured players missing today, which would mean even more hard decisions.”
It’ll be interesting to see how – and even if – Abraham will be used in the coming weeks.