Home Fitness guide Ex-Crystal Palace loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek breaks heart as Chelsea win – 5...

Ex-Crystal Palace loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek breaks heart as Chelsea win – 5 talking points

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CHELSEA 2-0 CRYSTAL PALACE: Second-half goals from ex-Palace player Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount booked Chelsea’s place against Liverpool in the FA Cup final

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Tuchel has sympathy for missing Gallagher against Chelsea in cup

Chelsea booked their place in this season’s FA Cup final as goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount beat a resolute Crystal Palace at Wembley.

It had been a wary affair during the opening hour with few chances either side and arguably the biggest opener to come for Palace thanks to a set piece that Cheikhou Kouyate couldn’t. guide to the target. They had to pay for that missed opportunity minutes later when Loftus-Cheek – who spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan at Selhurst Park – appeared in the area to find the net.

After falling behind, Palace out of caution in the wind with Christian Benteke and Michael Olise both getting in but it left them vulnerable at the back. With just 14 minutes left on the clock, Mason Mount doubled Chelsea’s lead after some neat build-up play from the edge of the box. It was enough to set up a second consecutive domestic cup final of the campaign against Liverpool. Here are five talking points from a tense afternoon at Wembley.

Loftus-Cheek’s semi-final dream







Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring at Wembley in the 65th minute
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Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)


Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s strike was his first goal for the club since May 19, 2019 – just a month away from three. While he had a season on loan at Fulham during that spell, where he scored just once, it was a surprisingly long draft for the 26-year-old.

The fine strike – which took a slight defection past Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland – was his first for the Blues since scoring in another semi-final: the 2019 Europa League draw against Eintracht Frankfurt, when the Blues needed penalties to progress.

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Speaking before the match on Friday, Tuchel said of the midfielder: “Self-confidence doesn’t come from being big, tall and handsome.” Well maybe not, but scoring in the FA Cup semi-final will certainly help.

Regrettable but proud palace







Palace fans created a great atmosphere at Wembley
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Ben Stansall/AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING PURPOSES / EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)


Crystal Palace were back at Wembley for the first time since the 2016 FA Cup final when they came close to defeating Manchester United before a late heartbreak. Patrick Vieira has restored the club to this level and this game doesn’t look like a one-off, but the start of a special period for Palace.

Cheikhou Kouyate repelled a glorious chance with the game scoreless while Joachim Andersen missed an even better chance with Vieira’s side two goals down. It wasn’t Palace’s day, but their vocal fans won’t be too discouraged.

Lukaku left lost







Lukaku was told by Tuchel that he lacked sufficient fitness to start against Palace
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Justin Setterfield – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)


Romelu Lukaku is the most expensive signing in English football history, but he has become a player in his own right at Chelsea. The Belgium international hasn’t started a Premier League game for almost two months and has also been almost exclusively used as a substitute in the Champions League.

Lukaku had started all four FA Cup matches for the Blues – all against lower league opponents – in which he scored three goals, the only times he found the net this season. It was debated during the kick-off build-up whether he would be selected for the most important clash, but he was not.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel explained before the game: “He’s not fit enough to play 90 minutes, not fit enough for the intensity of our game, it’s as simple as that. He’s injured, he’s missed minutes, so his match form isn’t there, otherwise there’s a big chance he’ll play today.” Instead, Chelsea started with their favorite front three from Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. Lukaku was introduced as a late substitute, but only when the match was finished and dusted.

The palace plan worked







Vieira tweaked his formation for the semi-final to close space for Chelsea in the final third
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Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)


Crystal Palace were always going to be underdogs for this encounter and Patrick Vieira would always be looking to undo that difference in any way possible.

Vieira threw a curveball as he lined up with three central defenders for the first time this season as central defensive duo Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi were joined by Cheikhou Kouyate. The fact that Kouyate returned to defence, coupled with the absence of Conor Gallagher against his former club, meant that Jeffrey Schlupp and James McArthur were the somewhat unknown central midfield partnership.

It was a plan that seemed to throw Chelsea off and slow the game down by the change in form allowing no space or planned runs from the front three Blues. It was a tactical triumph for Vieira, who came up against one of the elite coaches in the world. It wasn’t until the final quarter that the plan was foiled – leaving Palace to regret their missed chances.

Wembley blues







Chelsea have been a regular at Wembley over the years – with mixed results
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Justin Setterfield – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)


Chelsea have visited Wembley more times than any other club in recent times, but they haven’t always brought memorable experiences to the club.

They have lost three domestic finals at the North London Stadium in the past two years; the FA Cup final in 2020 against Arsenal and then the following year against Leicester, before being beaten by Liverpool in that season’s EFL Cup final in February. Tuchel’s side now have the chance to get revenge on the Reds as they aim to avoid a third straight FA Cup final defeat.

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