Date: Sunday 17th April 2022
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Tuesday night was gutting, but only because we were the better side and didn’t deserve to go out. As poor as we were at home, we more than made up for it at the Bernabeu and they couldn’t cope with us – just one momentary lapse ended what would have been a phenomenal comeback. Anyway, we won’t be retaining the Champions League crown, so it’s time to pick ourselves up and focus on things we can still fight for, in this afternoon’s FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace.
Despite a strong record against today’s opponents, with nine wins from the last 10 meetings, including both Premier League meetings this season, we’ve lost against lesser sides when we’ve under-estimated them this season. Crystal Palace have looked increasingly decent under Patrick Vieira, they have a young side with bags of energy and enthusiasm and we struggled for 1-0 last time we played them. Palace come into today’s game off the back of a defeat to Leicester last weekend, which ended a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions, a run which included a win against Arsenal and a draw against Manchester City. Palace also come into today having had a full week to prepare themselves, whilst we had a proper battle for 120 minutes against Real Madrid in Spain on Tuesday night after a slightly easier 6-0 win against Southampton last weekend.
Palace have kept four clean sheets in their last five games, so we shouldn’t expect the goals we’ve managed to score in our last couple of games, they’ve also only conceded two goals in the competition so far, with wins against Millwall, Hartlepool United, Stoke City and Everton to reach this stage. Chelsea have faced Chesterfield, Plymouth, Luton, and Middlesbrough on their FA Cup journey to the semi-final and a final against Liverpool awaits the winner today. Chelsea were runners-up in 2020 and 2021, but whether we get the opportunity to try to improve on that this year, will come down to how much we’ve got left in the tank.
We know we’re capable of winning games, tough games, but we’re also equally capable of failing to fully turn up. We’d better hope it’s the former today because if it’s the latter, we’d see ourselves out of two competitions in the space of five days.
Going into today’s game, Thomas, says “I think we are in between (confident and upset). From confidence wise I think it is a huge boost but still it is a disappointment to go out of Champions League at quarter-final. Not a big drama but of course not in this kind of way but still a disappointment because we feel we could be one of the four teams in semi-final. That is a weird feeling because we had a huge task to go to Madrid, win by minimum of two or three goals. We were three goals ahead. In a knockout game at Bernabeu this was a fantastic performance and stays like this but still tastes bitter because we are out of Champions League. In both legs we did too many individual mistakes, too many got punished by individual quality. It is still a little bit in between for me but we bounce back from the two results and performances against Brentford and Madrid, won both games after that. There is a big knockout game coming at Wembley which is, in my opinion, a good thing. There is a huge reward coming with it so it is not a ‘normal’ game in Premier League to collect points but straight away another knockout match. As you know, I think the players are also a bit in between. We haven’t talked too much about it with them.
The constant level on which [Crystal Palace] are playing, high level of energy, commitment. They are playing throughout the season in the same way. It is a big belief, a real team effort, very close to the coach. They are calming the club down, calming the situation down which was not easy with so many players leaving before the season. Did a fantastic job, created a very energetic team full of individual quality and very, very dangerous counter-attacking team. A committed group, very tough to play against in the league and will be a tough one. For us and for them it is a huge opportunity to play at Wembley. We need to be very well prepared to control the counter-attacks, the individual quality, the dribbles and play with the same level of intensity. They can create a certain atmosphere, especially at Selhurst Park but also at Wembley.”
Crystal Palace manager, Patrick Vieira, meanwhile, says “It’s the fact I’ve been in a place where clubs have been successful in the FA Cup and I was just a part of it. This is a different club, a different team with different ambitions and it is a really good moment for the club. That is why the message to the players and the fans is to enjoy the moment and enjoy the day. We had a really good week, we’ve prepared well, it’s another day tomorrow and we will be ready for the game.
The only disappointment for [Chelsea in the Champions League] is not to go through. Football-wise and the game that they had, it was really good. They played well. It was a big game and I think they performed well. I think they can be unlucky and they were unlucky not to go to the semi-final. We are talking about a club, a team and players who are used to playing several games in a week, important games one after another. The physical impact will not have any kind of impact on Chelsea’s performance. We have to look at ourselves, prepare ourselves, what we want to do to give ourselves the best chance to win the game.
It is an important game for the football club, it’s not about being an important game just for me. I am part of the team and the football club and it is an important moment for the football club. We have the opportunity to go to the final and we have to prepare as best we can to perform on the day. We know what to expect about Chelsea, we know the team and we know the individual talent they have. We’ve prepared well and we have to give the best performance. We’ve played in the league recently and lost 1-0 but we gave them a hard game and this is the same kind of approach that we want. We want to make it difficult for them. We want to play as best as we can and try to win the game. We are ambitious and we’ll have to perform on the day.”
For Chelsea, Ben Chilwell (knee), remains our long-term absentee, and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) also remains out, but Romelu Lukaku (Achilles) could be back.
For Crystal Palace, Nathan Ferguson (thigh) is out, and Conor Gallagher is ineligible to play although Tyrick Mitchell (calf) and Michael Olise (foot) may be available.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger, James; Kante, Kovacic; Alonso, Ziyech, Mount, Havertz
CRYSTAL PALACE (Possible line-up): Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; McArthur, Kouyate, Schlupp; Ayew, Mateta, Zaha
CURRENT FORM (ALL)
CRYSTAL PALACE: WWDWWL
- Chelsea have lost both of their past two FA Cup London derbies (2017 & 2020 finals).
- Crystal Palace have progressed to the final of the FA Cup on two of the past three occasions they’ve reached the last four.
- Chelsea have progressed to the final of the FA Cup from 15 of 24 previous semi-finals.
- This is Crystal Palace’s sixth appearance at this stage.
- This is Chelsea’s 25 FA Cup semi-final appearance.
- Crystal Palace have never won the FA Cup.
- Chelsea have beaten Crystal Palace twice this season.
- Chelsea have won each of their last nine games against Crystal Palace, including twice this season.
Sportsmole: Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace