Can we play you every week? Chelsea resoundingly crushed Tottenham to book an FA Cup final place against Liverpool on May 5th. But the scoreline doesn’t tell the story. Tottenham, to their credit, had their fair share of possession. They had their share of bad luck. They had their share of injustice. But Chelsea turned on the style. Whilst the jury is still out on the second goal, the other four were magnificent, trademark, Chelsea at their fabulous best. This was some way to show Barcelona what they are capable of, against a strong Tottenham side.
Any fears of Roberto Di Matteo fielding a weakened side with an eye on Wednesday’s meeting with Barcelona were subsided with the announcement that Dider Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard were all starting, the former having scored in every single FA Cup game he has played at Wembley.
But despite this, Tottenham looked the more ready, at least to start. Bar the odd freekick to Chelsea, Tottenham fashioned some neat chances, and were proving resolute to any potential Chelsea counter-attack.
But as the sides were settling into their rhythm, Chelsea fashioned the first real opportunity. Kalou’s through-ball to Mata was neat but filled with too much pace, and the creative Spaniard, who had a magnificent game, could only touch it to the grateful hands of former Chelsea man Carlo Cudicini.
Lampard was proving to be a thorn for Spurs, working well in a new defensive role, but Chelsea had to be grateful to another legend in the name of John Terry, who cleared off the line after van der Vaart’s second headed attempt evaded Cech.
Then Spurs hit the post: van der Vaart’s searching ball in went past everyone, beat Cech, but thankfully the post did its job.
But as Spurs ended the half stronger, Chelsea got a goal out of nowhere. Lampard punted the ball up the field with a minute to go, to relieve some pressure. But Dider Drogba showed us him at his menacing best, chesting it, turning Gallas and rifling a shot home: a truly magnificent solo effort, and that gave Chelsea a slender lead.
Then within minutes of the restart, Chelsea had their second. Continued pressure saw Mata drill into a pile of bodies on the line, and though some argue it did not cross the line, there is evidence to suggest that, perhaps, it wasn’t as clear-cut as it seemed. Once again, the case for video evidence grew louder.
Chelsea were settling and Tottenham found the space to get one back. Parker played a beautiful ball to Adebayor, and as he rounded Cech, he was clattered by the big Czech. Thankfully – ultimately for Chelsea more than Tottenham – Gareth Bale was on hand to score. Had he not been there, Martin Atkinson would not have played advantage, and Cech would have been inevitably sent off.
Luiz then pulled up with a hamstring when challenging with Adebayor, but his replacement Gary Cahill put in a marvellous shift.
Then came the third to settle it for Chelsea. Lampard found Mata, who supplied to Ramires. The Brazilian, so often failing to convert one-on-ones earlier in the season, finished with ease, lifting the ball over the oncoming Cudicini – a great show of calmness and composure.
As Tottenham tired, Chelsea felt the opportunity was there for a thumping. And Frank Lampard took that literally, rocketing a world-class, stunning free-kick, over the wall but dipping out of the reach of the Tottenham goalkeeper.
Spurs’ frustrations were evident when their captain Scott Parker tangled with Mikel, but it only fired Chelsea up one last time. Malouda, who had come on as a substitute, wrapped it up when he stroked home under Cudicini.
So, Barcelona, are you ready?