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Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City: 5 Talking Points as Hakim Ziyech settles cagey semi-final at Wembley | FA Cup 2020/21

Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final
Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final
Sai Teja
ANALYST
Modified 20 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea pulled off a stunning victory against Manchester City in the semi-final of the FA Cup. A superb team move in the second half was finished by Hakim Ziyech for the Blues to book their spot at Wembley for the FA Cup final.

It was a cagey affair on the evening at Wembley as two of English football's most in-form sides at the moment locked horns in a knockout tie.

Pep Guardiola's City were tipped to be the favourites to win the competition heading into the fixture, as they looked to be on course to win another domestic treble.

With an EFL Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur on the horizon and an 11-point lead at the top of the league, City hoped to progress to the FA Cup final to complete another clean sweep of English honours after doing so in 2018/19.

However, Tuchel's Blues had other plans as they delivered an excellent display in London to derail the seemingly unstoppable Cityzens, who were a far cry away from their usual dominant selves. Chelsea were the better side across the 90 minutes thoroughly deserved the win.

The German has continued his fantastic work at Chelsea since taking over from Frank Lampard as he now has an FA Cup final to look forward to after already helping them book a place in the last four of the UEFA Champions League. They will come up against either Leicester City or Southampton in the final at Wembley next month, depending on the outcome of the second semi-final on Sunday.

On that note, here is a look at five major talking points from Chelsea's 1-0 win over Manchester City.


#5 Chelsea win full-back duel against Manchester City

Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final
Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final

One of the standout features of Pep Guardiola's managerial approach is his reliance on full-backs as he has spent over Β£125m on wide defenders alone at City. This season, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko have been indispensable players to his set-up, with both full-backs adept at tucking into midfield or playing out wide.

However, at Wembley, it appeared that targeting these two players was part of Tuchel's game plan. Academy product Reece James and summer signing Ben Chilwell were far superior to their CIty counterparts on the evening as they successfully managed to pin City's full-backs into their own area, nullifying the unique threat(s) they had to offer in the process.

Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final
Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final

Chilwell, in particular, was very impressive on the night and constantly helped Chelsea hit City on the break. He won seven out of the 12 duels he contested for during the game β€” more than any other wide defender on the pitch β€” with more key passes (two) and touches (84) than any other Chelsea player.

Benjamin Mendy failed to offer anything of note to the game either and was carefully watched by both James and Cesar Azpilicueta on the right-hand side. Overall, the two English full-backs played a vital role in helping neutralise City's wide threats well on the night.


#4 Raheem Sterling's poor run of form

Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final
Manchester City v Chelsea: Emirates FA Cup Semi Final

Raheem Sterling's form was one of the biggest talking points ahead of the FA Cup semi-final. Sterling has appeared to have lost his place as a first-team player over the last few weeks, most notably since the Manchester derby, and has just two goals and an assist to show for in his previous ten games across all competitions.

The English winger was strangely called out by Pep Guardiola in public before the game β€” something the Catalan isn't renowned for β€” and offered an analogy about NBA icon Michael Jordan to describe the situation. He explained that greats such as the American do their talking on the pitch and not off it, saying;

"The greatest are like this [they talk on the pitch]. Michael Jordan never went to the media, manager or an agent to criticise or write books to criticise."

Also Read: How much is Michael Jordan's net worth in 2021?

Perhaps Guardiola intended to spark a fire within Sterling ahead of the big game. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it did not work one bit. The 26-year-old was poor on the ball, ineffective out of possession, and was a mere passenger during the semi-final. He was constantly outdone by Chelsea's smart defending on the right-hand side.

Sterling couldn't even manage to find a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes. His attacking threat was far from substantial, and his runs were dealt with by the Blues with relative ease.

The harsh truth is that his displays, Saturday included, pale in comparison to Phil Foden's over the last couple of months. Based on evidence from the Chelsea game, Sterling isn't getting back to being a regular starter for his club anytime soon as it was a poor night for the winger.


Also read: 5 Best deep-lying playmakers in the world this season (2020/21)

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Published 18 Apr 2021
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