Cup semi-final

Five reasons why Tottenham capitulated to a 4-2 FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea

The FA Cup is a football competition that still commands plenty of respect in England. On Saturday, 86,355 persons, packed into the Wembley Stadium to watch Chelsea do battle against Tottenham Hotspur in the first FA Cup semi-final fixture.

The game started in exhilarating fashion, with both teams giving a go at each other. It was, however, no surprise, when Toby Alderweireld, went through Pedro in the fourth minute to concede a dangerous free-kick right in front of the Spurs area. Willian coolly dispatched, to set the tone for an intense afternoon of football.

Tottenham equalized through a flicked Harry Kane header in the 18th minute to prove to everyone that the contest was far from over. A Willian 42nd minute penalty after Son Heung-Min had fouled Moses in the box brought the score to 2-1 at the interval.

It took Spurs only seven minutes after the restart to restore parity. The Lilly Whites dominated proceedings from then on. However, at the end of 90 minutes, Chelsea had gotten the better of Tottenham in a 4-2 victory. What went wrong for Spurs? Here are five reasons why Tottenham slumped to Chelsea, despite playing so well.

Breaking down Chelsea’s defense is no easy task

It’s been evident all through this season that Chelsea’s strength has been their impregnable defense. The Blues have found a way of shoring up the back. Tottenham did some good work to breach the Chelsea defense twice, but that was about it.

Chelsea proved to defensively compact in the end for a Tottenham team who are great at creating chances – as was seen with their two goals. At 2-2 it was all Spurs! They pressed and pressed; sent in crosses after crosses, but the Chelsea defense stood firm!

It’s no surprise that Chelsea defender, David Luiz was voted the best player on the pitch. Spurs is a free-scoring team, but doing so against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea is one uphill task.

Undeniable Eden Hazard effect

Eyebrows were raised when the starting lineups were displayed. Antonio Conte had left star striker, Diego Costa, and winger, Eden Hazard on the bench. However, Eden Hazard’s replacement, Willian, rose to the occasion and scored two goals to give Chelsea a half-time lead. But Spurs had gotten their equalizer and Chelsea were barely holding on – an attacking change was needed.

Enter Eden Hazard; the Belgian stepped in for Willian in the 61st minute and instantly turned the tie on its head. Within 14 minutes of stepping onto the pitch, he scored a screamer. Five minutes later, he set up Nemanja Matic for his Wembley moment and Spurs were run over

Clinical Chelsea

Chelsea was simply the more clinical side in front of goal. The Blues ensured that every chance counted, as opposed to Tottenham who were more wayward. Of the five shots Chelsea had on target, four went in. Spurs could only score two of their four shots on target. Their 9 shots off target are triple Chelsea number.

Spurs boss, Mauricio Pochettino re-echoed this after the game:

“They had five shots and scored four goals and we score only two”

With such finesse in front of goal, it wasn’t difficult to fathom why Hugo Lloris kept picking balls out of his net, despite his team’s high press and 63% ball possession.

Conte won the tactics battle

Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, has been heavily criticized for his team’s high level of predictability. You can almost guess Chelsea’s starting xi if they have a fully fit squad. You can bet your house on Chelsea playing a 3-4-3 system and who’s going to play where.

However, Antonio Conte surprised everyone when he dropped Diego Costa and started Michy Batshuayi instead. He also benched Eden Hazard for Willian and handed a rare start to Nathan Ake.

The result was glaring. Nathan Ake put up a brilliant defensive display to smother Spurs attacking threat. Willian scored twice to justify his inclusion in the starting lineup; while Eden Hazard came off the bench to score and provide an assist.

Conte proved from his tactics and substitutions that his team could be unpredictable and it worked.

Tottenham Wembley ghost looms large

The last time Spurs won a knockout game at Wembley was in 2008, in a League Cup semi-final victory over Chelsea. Nine games at Wembley since then has seen them lose six times, drawn once and won once.

Tottenham has now lost their last three FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley. In 2010, they lost 2-nil to Portsmouth, in 2012, they lost 5-1 to Chelsea and lost again to Chelsea on Saturday.

In the League Cup, Tottenham has also been unable to shake off the Wembley ghost – Manchester United and Chelsea beat them in the League Cup finals of 2009 and 2015 respectively.

The pain of a seventh consecutive FA Cup semi-final defeat will be made worse by the fact that they (Tottenham) have suffered the most defeats at Wembley (seven) than any other side in recent times.

About the Author Kingsley

I am a football/soccer connoisseur who enjoys crafting interesting articles like the one you just read.

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