IN a single extraordinary weekend, both Chelsea’s men and women reached their respective FA Cup finals, setting up a double helping of top-drawer football next month.
Both won their semis 2-0 – the women defeating Arsenal on their manor in the early afternoon last Sunday, and the men despatching Crystal Palace at Wembley a couple of hours later.
Emma Hayes managed to be both delighted and frustrated following the Boreham Wood victory, where second-half goals from Guro Reiten and Ji So-Yun ensured the Blues progressed past the Gunners to tee up a final against Manchester City and the prospect of revenge for the Conti Cup final defeat.
Thomas Tuchel was pleased with the men’s display against Palace, who set up to thwart Chelsea… and succeeded in the first half, playing out one of the dullest 45 minutes anyone could recall at Wembley.
The only points of note were Mateo Kovacic ricking his right ankle and having to be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Kai Havertz rightly being booked for a graceless dive into the Palace penalty area to try to blag a penalty.
If anyone came close to breaking the deadlock it was Palace in the 36th minute as Cheikhou Kouyate’s shot was saved and Joachim Andersen hit the post with the follow-up.
Mercifully for the 76,238 weary spectators, it brightened up in the 65th minute when ex-Blue Marc Guehi blocked a Havertz shot, but Loftus-Cheek latched on to the loose ball and unleashed a terrific volley which took a deflection on its way home.
Timo Werner set up the second 11 minutes later, feeding Mason Mount who slid the ball past Jack Butland.
This weekend West Ham – on something of a roll – visit Stamford Bridge for what promises to be another tough derby. It means that in the space of seven days Chelsea will have played Palace, Arsenal and the Hammers.
Incidentally, Chelsea will get an allocation of 30,000 tickets for the men’s FA Cup final on May 14.