Chelsea are through to the FA Cup semi-final after today’s 2-0 victory against Sheffield United. For much of the game Chelsea were the better side, although the cracks in Chelsea’s normally resolute defense began to open much more frequently and openly in the second half.
The Blues took the early lead thanks to Sheffield United centre-back Oliver Norwood’s deflection from Ben Chilwell’s shot from range in the first half. However Chelsea were unable to threaten Sheffield United with solid chances on target after that outside of two individual plays from Christian Pulisic. That did not bode well for a second half performance that would see Sheffield United lacking only the quality to finish off some very good chances against Chelsea, with Kepa Arrizabalaga stepping up to deny the visitors.
Overall Tuchel had good reason to be reasonably pleased with the result given tiredness and other problems that affected the team this week, even though the performance could have been better.
“Expect a better performance? Yes, but now is the fourteenth match in a row and I could feel after the Atlético game that we are a bit tired, there was a big relief in the team, and that is absolutely normal. It was also a huge effort mentally against Atlético.
“Then you have a lot of changes, made by me of course, and you have players leaving right now for international duties, so there is a lot to organise, and many unclear situations. It was a moment where we arrived yesterday where I didn’t feel 100% comfortable or sure that we could continue on the same level.”
Tonight’s match featured plenty of changes to what would appear to be Tuchel’s favored selections, as Tuchel looked to give a lot of the players on the fringes a prolonged runout. Kepa Arrizabalaga, Emerson, Billy Gilmour and Christian Pulisic looked to benefit the most with the chance to impress with today’s minutes.
“I said to the team before not to over-expect things from ourselves in the situation. Do a serious performance, take the little details, but don’t over-expect.
“The first-half was ok. The second half, there was a chance for Christian [Pulisic] that we didn’t take, and then we lost control, concentration and momentum. And there were many, many minutes to suffer.
“We allowed two big chances and we were lucky to escape with a clean sheet. There are of course many situations that explain that, and this is absolutely okay after 14 matches. So in the end, big, big compliments to the players; and well done.”
-Thomas Tuchel; Source: football.london
It’s unlikely that we will see similar rotation in our upcoming FA Cup tie, where the Blues will face Manchester City at Wembley for a spot in the competition’s final. But it’s fair to say players such as Emerson, Gilmour and especially Pulisic did enough to justify more appearances beyond these cup games, as we approach the end to a season that has the potential to be unforgettable to many Chelsea fans.