Ahead of Sunday’s crunch match against Manchester United, Ameya guides us through Chelsea’s last five FA Cup Semi Finals
The FA Cup is known to be a historic competition by word of mouth, but what many do not know, is the fact that it is the oldest existing football competition in the world. The first time this competition was held was in the 1871-72 season, meaning it has been in existence for nearly one and half century and has survived two pandemics as well as two world wars. Chelsea have a good record in this tournament, reaching the final on 13 occasions, and winning it eight times- making us the third highest side to have won this iconic piece of silverware, behind Arsenal and Manchester United (who have won it 13 and 12 times respectively). The first time Chelsea reached the FA Cup final was in the 1914/15 season, losing out to Sheffield United. We had to wait till the 1969/70 season to win our first FA Cup, defeating Leeds 2-1 in the replay after a 2-2 stalemate in the initial game. Despite us having to wait for about 65 years since the club’s inception to win the competition for the first time, we have become fond of winning the FA Cup off late; we have emerged victorious from this tournament seven times since the 1996/97 season.
After winning the competition in 2018, we crashed out in the early stages last season after losing out to Manchester United at home. Coincidentally, we face them in the semi-final clash at Wembley on Sunday (for the fourth time this season in all competitions!). On that note, let’s take a quick trip down the memory lane of our last five FA Cup semi-final appearances.
22nd April, 2018: Chelsea 2-0 Southampton
After beating Leicester City 2-1 in the quarterfinals, Chelsea set up a semi-final clash with Southampton who overcame Wigan Athletic 2-0. While Mark Hughes’ arrival had boosted the mood around St. Mary’s, Chelsea’s relationship with Antonio Conte was straining by the passing second. After a very successful first year in charge, Conte couldn’t replicate the performances of the past season, with City walking away with the league. However, his desire for a trophy came in the form of the FA Cup, and Southampton was all that stood between him and a final clash with Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Chelsea lined up in their famous 3-4-3 formation, with no notable changes except for the goalkeeper position- with Caballero preferred to continue as the cup goalkeeper. The game stood at 0-0 at halftime, with Hazard’s lively feet the only entertainment, apart from Willian smashing a shot against the crossbar. Giroud, who was incapable of putting away any of the half-chances that fell his way in the first forty five minutes, channelled his close control skills as he beautifully controlled the ball in the box and put it away on his own, beating four defenders and the goalkeeper to poke the ball into the back of the net. Hazard continued to be his magical self, but we needed to wait until the 82nd minute for Morata to head home the insurance goal from an Azpilicueta cross, as we marched into the final. An Eden Hazard penalty in the following game saw us win the FA Cup for the eighth time.
22nd April, 2017: Chelsea 4-2 Spurs
This game will always be remembered for *that* Matic screamer which was the reason for the famous ‘shocked Zouma’ GIF, but it is also remembered as the game following which Lampard (who was a pundit for the game) bantered the Spurs fans after the full time whistle. A thrilling game which saw six goals scored ended with Chelsea setting up a final clash with our opponent’s arch-rivals Arsenal in the final.
There was a sense of overconfidence in Conte’s line up as he benched star players Hazard and Costa, preferring Willian and Batshuayi to them, while also giving youngster Nathan Ake a chance in the first team. The long serving Brazilian winger repaid the manager’s faith by scoring the first goal of the game from a free kick just five minutes in. Harry Kane scored Tottenham’s equaliser 18 minutes in, before Willian scored from the spot just before halftime to ensure Chelsea’s lead heading into the break. Seven minutes after the restart, Alli equalised for Spurs yet again, making it 2-2 and forcing Conte to bring on Hazard and Costa. The tricky Belgian seemed to know his task as he scored Chelsea’s third and the fifth of the game in the 75th minute with a tidy finish from inside the box, before a Matic thunderbolt ensured the final would be just a London derby and not a North London one. Chelsea lost in the final at the hands Arsenal however, and had to settle for the record breaking league win.
14th April 2013: Chelsea 1-2 Manchester City
Chelsea walked into Wembley as the current holders of the FA Cup, and were keen to keep the trophy in London as a poor league and European campaign saw Roberto Di Matteo relieved of his duties and Rafa Benitez installed as the interim. However, Manchester City, who were the winners in 2011, seemed more determined to face Wigan in the final. Chelsea started the game with Terry and Lampard on the bench after an important Europa League clash, and were made to pay as City clearly dominated proceedings. Barring Hazard’s brilliance, City were clearly on top and 35 minutes later, Nasri asserted their dominance with a good finish past Cech to give City the lead. After going into the break with a 1-0 lead, City were keen to double it, and did so with Aguero’s header. The introduction of Torres changed the game massively, as Chelsea pulled one back courtesy for Demba Ba. Torres should’ve been awarded a penalty in the dying moments of the game after Kompany appeared to have pulled his shirt, but the referee looked the other way. Chelsea ended the season as the Europa League winners while City lost the final to a high spirited Wigan.
15th April 2012: Chelsea 5-1 Tottenham
In the season that will mostly be remembered for Chelsea’s historic UEFA Champions League win; many people forget that we also won the FA Cup under interim boss Roberto di Matteo. While the final victory over Liverpool sported that incredible save from Cech to deny Andy Carroll the equaliser, the semi-final was a one sided affair. The game started evenly with both sides getting themselves on the end of a fair few chances, but neither side to take the lead, and John Terry’s heroics played a huge part in that. It took 43 minutes for the breakthrough goal, coming from Drogba, as Chelsea lead 1-0 at halftime. Shortly after the restart, Mata doubled Chelsea’s lead, although replays showed that the ball had not crossed the line. Gareth Bale pulled one back for Spurs in the 56th minute, as there was a sense of unease among the Chelsea supporters at Wembley. However, Chelsea ran riot in the last 13 minutes as three goals from Ramires, a fantastic Lampard free-kick and Malouda ensured a staggering 5-1 victory, with Liverpool waiting in the final. Chelsea finished the season as the Champions of Europe, while Spurs, as usual, finished trophy less.
10th April 2010: Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa
Carlo Ancelotti’s free scoring Chelsea were ready to face Aston Villa by all means- as they had demolished them 7-1 in the Premier League less than 15 days prior to this semi-final clash at Wembley. However, the Martin O’Neill coached side were ready for this tie, and kept Chelsea at bay for the entirety of the first half. In fact, they even deserved a penalty as Mikel tripped Agbonlahor inside the box- but were denied by the referee. Chelsea responded well in the second half, and were getting more and more anxious by Villa’s grit. However, the breakthrough finally arrived in the 67th minute, courtesy of none other than Didier Drogba. The thousands of Villa fans inside the stadium felt their heart shatter as one of the best attacks in world football were kept at bay for over an hour in the game, only to concede from a corner. They did not give up though- and continued to throw men forward and whip crosses into the box, with no return. Chelsea on the other hand, exploited the huge gaps which were left at the back by Villa due to their all-out-attack formation, and scored two goals in the 89th minute and the fifth minute of stoppage time (courtesy of Malouda and Lampard respectively), to set up a final clash with the winners of the other semi-final between Tottenham and Portsmouth. Chelsea eventually went on to cruise through the league- including the 8-0 demolition of Wigan on the last day- and also beat Portsmouth in the final to complete the league and domestic cup double in Ancelotti’s first season in charge.
So there it is- the last five FA Cup semi-finals. Chelsea should go up against Manchester United on Sunday with only one result in mind, which is to win, as it is simply unacceptable to lose to the same side four times in one season. Chelsea also boast a good record of winning semi-finals at Wembley- winning seven of their eight appearances. This is also our only shot at a trophy this season, and a trophy in his first season in management would do Lampard a world of good.
Which of these games is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!