It was a brilliant night at the Bridge yesterday, as (now even more injury-depleted) Chelsea eliminated (suddenly wobbly) Liverpool from the FA Cup, scoring twice without reply. In fairness, the Blues had played the Reds close both times we’ve faced them this season as well, but last night, we put it all together.
To make it even sweeter, there was an unlikely hero at the center of it all — literally. Young Billy Gilmour, all 5’6” of him (seems shorter), absolutely sparkled in Chelsea’s midfield, despite a rotating cast of characters around him thanks to Mateo Kovačić’s injury halfway through the game.
But it was no big deal for the Man of the Match himself, as he explained to Chelsea TV afterwards. It was just bit of football, a simple matter of execution. Game(plan), set, atch. Light work, really.
“I thought we’d done really well, coming on the back of a couple bad results. We were brilliant. Every ball we were challenging for, Ross with the goal — it just sums up how good we were when we attacked them.
“The game plan went right. During the game, I just went through the plays we’ve been doing in training. And that’s what we did: going into midfield and playing around them on the outside. We knew Liverpool were going to play a high line, so the amount of times we got behind them by switches of play ... it worked! So we kept doing that, and when they started to [adjust], I could try and turn and play forward. And it happened, so it was really good!”
But perhaps even more impressive than all that was Gilmour’s graft off the ball, be that in tracking back into his own box (including a fantastic tackle/shield of Sadio Mané; 1.30-mark of the video at the top) or putting in tackles up and down in midfield. Whether he was tasked with proactive or reactive responsibilities, picking the perfect pass or making the strong yet clean challenge, Billy G barely missed a beat.
“Yeah, I enjoyed [those tackles as well]. Most folk would say because I’m small I wouldn’t do that, but I love a good tackle. I’ve done two tackles tonight and came out on top, so I was good.”
-Billy Gilmour; source: Chelsea TV
Gilmour, who actually sold himself short since WhoScored credited him with five (5) tackles, delivered that last line with a bigger smile than at any point in his interview. You can take the boy out of Glasgow but you can’t take the Glasgow out of the boy, as they might say.
As the Chelsea TV crew also quipped, Gilmour might have to repeat this trick on Sunday against yet another Merseyside team, with Everton coming in and Chelsea suddenly down both Jorginho (suspended) and Kovačić (probably out with an Achilles for at least a little while).
Then again, why couldn’t he?