Chelsea produced arguably their most fascinating performance yet under Antonio Conte in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday, one that contained as many questions as answers but eventually resulted in a thrilling Blues win.
Chelsea and Tottenham both dominated in periods of an FA Cup clash that both teams knew would have some effect on their respective form in the Premier League title race, but it was Antonio Conte’s side who eventually pulled away despite their opponents’ relentless pressure in the opening stages of the second half.
Both of Willian’s first half efforts were cancelled out by Harry Kane and Dele Alli, but Eden Hazard peeled away at a corner to slot the ball home and give Chelsea the lead on the 75th minute, leaving Nemanja Matic to seal the deal with an unforgettable strike from outside the box.
The strength of Chelsea’s mentality was the overriding narrative of the afternoon, but amid all the chaos of the six-goal thriller, someone had to claim the Man of the Match award. And according to the results of our recent poll, Chelsea fans reckon it should go to youngster Nathan Ake, who wasn’t even guaranteed a place in the starting line-up.
The prodigious Dutchman came in for Gary Cahill, who was absent through illness, but certainly didn’t let his side down, producing a series of crucial challenges to keep out Spurs’ rampant attack. Clearly, Blues fans think the 22-year-old deserves more chances to impress Conte in the coming weeks – and perhaps even hold down a starting berth next season.