Chelsea booked their place in this season’s Emirates FA Cup final with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday evening.
Hakim Ziyech, who joined the Blues from Dutch giants Ajax last summer, netted the only goal of the game just ten minutes into the second half after he connected with Timo Werner’s square pass.
The Moroccan’s fifth goal of the campaign, and his second in his last two FA Cup appearances, was enough to seal the win for Thomas Tuchel’s charges, meaning they brought an end to City’s hopes of completing a famous quadruple this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side currently riding high at the top of the Premier League table, in the final of the Carabao Cup and just two games away from the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Although City have been a dominant force in England this season, sweeping almost everybody aside who they have come up against, Tuchel had the measure of them. The German implemented his tactics to perfection and guided his side to a fully deserved victory.
The win over City capped off what can only be described as an outstanding week’s work. The Blues defeated Crystal Palace 4-1 at Selhurst Park last weekend, securing their biggest win of the Tuchel era so far, before booking their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years on Tuesday evening. Now, they have ended the week by moving to within one game of lifting the FA Cup for a ninth time.
Considering Chelsea was a club that was in serious danger of missing out on the top-four when they sacked Frank Lampard towards the end of January, to still be in with an excellent chance of finishing third this season, booking a place in the final of the Champions League and lifting the FA Cup deserves enormous amounts of praise.
And the vast majority of that praise should be sent in Tuchel’s direction. The German has arrived at Stamford Bridge and wasted no time in setting out his own philosophy for how he wants his team to play. He has changed the formation, their outlook and the belief they have within as a squad. They fear nobody, proven with wins over Atletico Madrid (twice), Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and City.
To have beaten all of those clubs, and done so without conceding a single goal, deserves massive amounts of plaudits.
Therefore, it is fair to say that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was bang on the money when waxing lyrical about Tuchel when he was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain. Klopp hailed Tuchel as a “fantastic manager” and spoke highly of the way he had changed the French club’s style of play, something he most certainly hasn’t been afraid to do since arriving in west London.
“A fantastic, fantastic manager. You can see really his influence, it has changed a lot their style of play, how they play, different formations and stuff like that,” Klopp said back in 2019, as quoted by Get French Football News.
“I know a lot of people who have worked with him, they all are full of respect for him. You cannot be in the Champions League only because of spending money, that is not how it is.
“You need to have on the pitch a good organisation, because all the others we are not blind.
“We do our job as well and you need to have the right tools in the right moments and Thomas has that.”
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Admittedly, Tuchel has inherited a squad packed to the rafters with big name talents, but it still requires someone with knowledge and a know-how to use his tools to perfection to make it all come together. That, Tuchel has achieved admirably since taking charge at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel has won 13 of his first 19 games in charge so far, meaning he has made a blistering start to life in charge in west London, raising the club’s prospects of winning a trophy before the end of the campaign.
Should he lead Chelsea to a top-four finish, the Champions League and FA Cup then he will have made an impact at Stamford Bridge that nobody could have ever imagined when he arrived in England in January.