LONDON — Manchester Metropolis are nonetheless on target for an unimaginable season, however historical past should wait. Hakim Ziyech‘s second-half objective for Chelsea ensured a 1-0 defeat for Pep Guardiola’s workforce within the FA Cup semifinal and ended desires of an unprecedented Quadruple, for one more yr at the least.
The Premier League leaders can nonetheless win three main trophies this season, with the league title nearly within the bag and a Carabao Cup closing towards Tottenham Hotspur later this month earlier than a two-legged Champions League semifinal towards Paris Saint-Germain. However at Wembley on Saturday, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea deservedly booked their fourth FA Cup closing in 5 years (they’ll face Southampton or Leicester Metropolis on Might 15) by being fitter, slicker and extra decisive over 90 minutes. Ziyech’s objective was sufficient to win the sport, however the Moroccan winger and substitute Christian Pulisic each noticed objectives dominated out for offside in a recreation that Chelsea dominated.
With Metropolis’s Quadruple chase over, Guardiola insisted he and his gamers have achieved nicely to even get this far.
“What may I say? We have now two and a half days to recuperate and play away and must journey, we have been on the prepare for 3 hours and we have been stopped one hour,” Guardiola mentioned after the match. “It was a good recreation, congratulations to Chelsea — they’re a high facet. This may occur. These guys [City] battle each recreation like by no means earlier than I’ve seen.”
For Chelsea, this victory prolonged the revival below Tuchel’s administration since his appointment as Frank Lampard’s successor in January. They’ve misplaced simply twice in 19 video games in all competitions (and stored 14 clear sheets) below the German tactician, reached the FA Cup closing and are favourites to win the race for fourth place within the Premier League following West Ham United‘s shock defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday. And in the event that they overcome Actual Madrid within the Champions League semifinals, they may face Metropolis as soon as once more, within the closing in Istanbul, and deny Guardiola’s workforce a primary European Cup by taking it to Stamford Bridge for a second time.
Prior to now 10 years, Metropolis and Chelsea have dominated the English soccer panorama, and there might be no denying that they’ve usurped the previous order — Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal — to change into high canines. Metropolis have received 9 main trophies and Chelsea have received eight since 2011-12. United (4) and Arsenal (4) have received simply eight between them, whereas Liverpool have solely simply began profitable once more by clinching the Champions League in 2019 and Premier League final yr.
However whereas Chelsea have been constant winners, Metropolis have threatened to depart the remaining of their wake below Guardiola. Their home Treble in 2019 was the primary time it had been achieved in English soccer historical past, so a Quadruple would have been on one other scale.
United’s Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in 1999 stays the high-water mark, although, now that Metropolis have succumbed within the FA Cup. They will nonetheless pull off a Treble, after all, by profitable the league, Carabao Cup and Champions League, however Liverpool managed that in 1984, so they’d solely be treading a path already walked by others.
A Quadruple would have been unprecedented and relegated all these earlier Trebles to footnotes within the historical past books, however Metropolis’s problem now’s to make sure that their pursuit of 4 trophies doesn’t fizzle out and finish in comparative disappointment. In the event that they find yourself profitable the Champions League for the primary time, no one on the Etihad will spend an excessive amount of time worrying in regards to the FA Cup. However whereas Metropolis stay alive in three different competitions, this defeat — and final Saturday’s Premier League loss towards a 10-man Leeds United squad — highlighted shortcomings and issues that would see Guardiola’s workforce slip up within the Carabao Cup and Champions League.
Chelsea’s tactic of hitting Metropolis on the counterattack, with the tempo of Ziyech, Mason Mount and Timo Werner, was profitable on a number of events. It additionally led on to Ziyech’s objective, when Werner raced into the penalty space earlier than pulling the ball again to the previous Ajax man. United deployed the same tactic of their Premier League win on the Etihad earlier this season, and it’s doubtless that PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino will inform his personal flying forwards — Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria — to reveal Metropolis’s defensive weak point.
And towards Chelsea, Metropolis appeared drained. Worryingly so. The Londoners had an additional day of relaxation following their Champions League conflict with FC Porto in Seville on Tuesday, 24 hours earlier than Metropolis’s win towards Borussia Dortmund in Germany, which is probably why Guardiola made eight modifications to his workforce. However those that began nonetheless travelled to Dortmund, in order that they did not get pleasure from a midweek off, and so they will not have this midweek off both as a result of Metropolis should journey to Aston Villa within the Premier League on Wednesday.
Then comes the Carabao Cup closing on Sunday, earlier than the primary leg in Paris three days later, so the video games are mounting and so is the fatigue. The sight of Kevin De Bruyne limping off with a second-half ankle damage will even be a priority to Guardiola.
“It does not look good, he has ache,” the Metropolis supervisor mentioned. “We’ll see. Tomorrow he may have a take a look at.”
Raheem Sterling was ineffective towards Chelsea, as was Brazilian ahead Gabriel Jesus, and Guardiola will want his attacking gamers to hold extra menace towards Spurs subsequent weekend and PSG within the Champions League.
“We have now not had a midweek free for eight months,” Guardiola mentioned. “We have now performed a whole lot of video games, and it’ll proceed. Now it’s the Premier League, the Carabao Cup subsequent week. It is only one extra recreation.”
However that is the enterprise finish of the season, when all nice groups overcome damage and tiredness by discovering an additional one thing to get them over the road. There are many obstacles in Metropolis’s path, although, earlier than they attain that ending line, and profitable three trophies this season will nonetheless be a tall order.
Guardiola has all the time insisted it could be near inconceivable to win 4, and he has been proved proper. The query now’s what number of they will nonetheless win, and whether or not this season will finally depart Metropolis feeling like they may have received extra.