Chelsea’s best performance and best result in nearly a month came at the somewhat unfortunate cost of losing Mateo Kovacic for the rest of the season. The midfielder, who had just come back from an ankle injury last week, was faced with a somewhat reckless rush of Dan James before the half-hour mark, and while trying to run for a few minutes, James would follow the red card off the field shortly after.
As coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed after the game, the injured ankle is the same one that has just healed, and it doesn’t look like we’ll see Kova again this season – certainly not in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
“It looks swollen and painful. It’s the same ankle he already injured. It doesn’t look good.”
Beyond that, it was an almost perfect evening, as Chelsea scored early in both halves, added a late third to secure all three points which brought us just two points from the guaranteed end of the fourth box – and struck another nail in the coffin of Premier League relegation Leeds.
Goals from Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku ensured that the three starters on the scoring sheet, with the flankers engaged to perfection, and the defense managed to shake off any small mistakes that might have occurred. Definitely a great 90 minutes to build confidence this weekend.
“If we had not had the big injury of Mateo Kovacic, it would have been close to a great evening. It was a very strong performance from the start.
“We accepted all the obstacles we had to face – a physical team and an emotional field. We were strong from the start and deserved to win. We never lowered our focus. We stayed very disciplined to avoid any chance of an attacking move. We did what we had to do at a very high level. [We] She was very focused. Even against 11 players we were clearly the better team. The team felt very committed, focused and calm. I had a good feeling.
“I was happy with the way we played and how the players reacted after the draw late on Saturday. We believed in ourselves but it was necessary to clear the air and refocus. The level of discipline and coverage in the defensive style, we were more careful than the last game. That we have a clean sheet.”
Thomas Tuchel. Source: BBC
Barely 72 hours have passed since Wembley. Time to sleep, rest, recover and win the cup!