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Player ratings from Chelsea vs. Tottenham

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Chelsea beat Tottenham 4-2 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday as Antonio Conte‘s side edged out Mauricio Pochettino‘s men to reach the FA Cup final against either Arsenal or Manchester City.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Here are the marks out of 10 on each player from what will go down as a classic FA Cup semifinal.


Chelsea

Thibaut Courtois – 6 – Spilled Harry Kane‘s free kick in stoppage time but wasn’t punished. Solid apart from that.

Cesar Azpilicueta – 7 – Captain on the day and put in a typically solid shift back at center back.

David Luiz – 8 – On his 30th birthday showed real maturity to shackle Harry Kane, especially in the second half.

Nathan Ake – 7 – Proved to Conte he is ready to start next season. The Dutchman looks so good on the ball.

Victor Moses – 7 – Won the penalty kick before half time and gave Son a torrid afternoon.

Nemanja Matic – 6 – Apart from smashing in an absolute screamer to make it 4-2, Matic had an off day.

N'Golo Kante – 6 – Like his central midfield partner, Kante had a rare game where he looked overrun in midfield.

Marcos Alonso – 5 – Spurs had plenty of joy down Alonso’s flank and although he kept going, not one of his better games.

Willian – 7 – Scored twice with a sublime free kick and a cool PK. Must’ve been annoyed to be subbed off in second half.

Michy Batshuayi – 4 – May well be his final appearance in a Chelsea shirt. Never got involved and Willian handed the PK over him.

Pedro – 6 – Flitted in and out of the game but his pace on the break was always a threat.

Subs
Diego Costa on for Batshuayi – 6 – His presence caused Spurs’ backline problems.
Eden Hazard on for Willian – 7 – A fine goal and another assist. Not bad for 30 minutes on the pitch…
Cesc Fabrgeas on for Pedro – 6 – Had a steadying influence on the game to help seal the win.


Tottenham Hotspur

Hugo Lloris – 6 – Maybe to blame for Willian’s free kick going in as one step to his right cost him.

Eric Dier – 6 – A steady outing at center back. Few misplaced passes at key moments almost cost Spurs.

Toby Alderweireld – 6 – Steady outing on the ball but gave away the free kick from which Willian scored.

Jan Vertonghen – 7 – Typically committed display and didn’t look too troubled defensively throughout.

Kieran Trippier – 7 – Gave Spurs an attacking option on the right and did well on the left after Walker came on.

Mousa Dembele – 7 – Kept the ball well and his runs forward caused Chelsea so many problems. Smooth display, as always.

Victor Wanyama – 7 – Helped win the midfield battle alongside Dembele and did all of the dirty work. Got the better of Kante.

Hueng-min Son – 4 – Had a horrible time at left wing back. Gave away a penalty kick and looked so unsure defensively.

Christian Eriksen – 8 – Two wonderful assists with textbook crosses. He’s now created all of Spurs’ last four goals vs. Chelsea.

Harry Kane – 7 – A fine header for his goal and although he always looked dangerous, Luiz may have won the battle between them.

Dele Alli – 8 – Superb finish to make it 2-2 and always a threat with his surging runs and clever movement.

Subs
Kyle Walker on for Hueng-min Son – 5 – Offered plenty more going forward and solid in defense.
Georges-Kevin -Nkoudou on for Victor Wanyama – 5 – One run into the box but that was about it.

Report: Wenger ready to pay Ozil, Sanchez club record deals

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Arsenal knows its departure from the UEFA Champions League has to be a short one, and that keeping its two best attackers around is imperative.

That’s why Arsene Wenger is preparing to make Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez the top paid players in Arsenal history, according to a report from The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson.

The contract status of both players has been a touchy one this season, and Sanchez especially has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe (including London neighbors Chelsea).

[ MORE: Yaya to stay at Man City ]

But perhaps the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph over Chelsea has Ozil and Sanchez feeling good vibes about the Emirates Stadium set, and Arsenal is ready to pounce. According to the report:

Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stays together and is supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Ozil is understood already to have been offered more than £250,000 a week and the club are ready to go to around £280,000 for both him and Sanchez.

The Gunners need both players healthy and happy heading into next season, and appropriate additions as well (A top striker is a must. Again). Wage structure is important, but Arsenal will have a blessing in disguise if another player can make a legit case he deserves to be paid like Ozil and Sanchez any time soon.

West Ham, Everton, and the superstar striker’s need for the Champions League

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Come up with a list of active elite level strikers, and it’s likely to be a short one filled with names from UEFA Champions League clubs.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Harry Kane, even Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rarely do names like these move to a non-UCL club while in their prime, and it’s just as uncommon to see them stay at clubs which have failed to qualify for the UCL.

The money, the prestige, the endorsements; All are amplified by the world stage. Given the massive import of their domestic stage and spotlight, Premier League sides have bucked this trend on occasion — see Romelu Lukaku — but it’s the exception to the rule.

That’s what puts an ambitious club like West Ham United between a rock and a hard place. The Irons have been vocal about their desires to bring in a top-end striker, and it’s likely they’d be happy to spend what it takes to attract Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang, or Cavani to town.

Lyon reportedly rejected a $45 million bid for Lacazette last season, admitting that ultimately the player’s desires would determine his future. Higuain, too, was linked to chairman David Gold’s wallet before moving to Juventus. Carlos Bacca also saw his future connected to the Irons.

Instead, Gold landed Andre Ayew from Swansea, and had to hope Andy Carroll could stay healthy or Enner Valencia would deliver. Not a striker, Dimitri Payet apparently decided to skip town soon after West Ham’s Europa League exit at the hands of Astra Giurgiu.

Now it’s Kelechi Iheanacho being linked to the London Stadium, another hopeful swing from the Irons that points a strong finger at the problem: West Ham can be as ambitious as it likes, but it’s going to need a miracle to pull an elite striker to London without European football.

And it shouldn’t happen, but what if Everton is bumped from the UEL in the third qualifying round or playoff next year? Will Lukaku follow Payet’s lead and sink another team from joining the discussion? Though an argument can be made it’s better for Everton to lose those summer games, the Toffees very much need to succeed in the UEL qualifying and also show signs of strength in the early PL docket. That’s the unforgiving life of sitting on the outskirts of the powerful tier.

Every team at every level is searching for the next elite striker. Some, like West Ham, will need to luck into a young buck on the rise or a flawed striker finding his potential. And how do they hold onto that player, one who will have alerted the big boys to his arrival, without qualifying for Europe? It’s improbable.

The ability of teams like Chelsea and Liverpool to compete for a European slot in the PL standings thanks to missing out on the UCL the year before signals hope for clubs like Everton and West Ham. And five Premier League sides competing in the UCL this year could extend an invitation to stay longer in the Top Seven discussion for sides like Southampton and Leicester City, too.

So this summer’s striker captures are huge for Slaven Bilic and David Gold. This is a window the league’s “next group” won’t have open annually, and West Ham’s hopes of barging into the discussion again hinge on who shows up by August.

Toure reportedly set for another year with Man City

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Never say never.

Yaya Toure looks like his season-long peace with Pep Guardiola will stretch into a new season, with Toure’s combustible agent admitting talks with Manchester City regarding a new contract.

Dimitri Seluk is among the worst agents on Earth Toure’s agent, and said, “We are talking. We will see what happens but City is a club that is in Yaya’s heart.”

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

But Seluk has not been in City’s heart, having made numerous poor decisions on when to open his mouth, deepening a rift between Toure and Guardiola that kept the player off the pitch for some time. Earlier this Spring, Seluk also suggested that Toure could join Manchester United.

So, yeah, smart guy. Hates microphones and publicity.

Toure turned 34 this month, and became a fixture for Guardiola once he broke into the lineup. The midfielder made nine-straight starts around the turn of the calendar, scoring five goals in the Premier League.

Wolfsburg holds off Braunschweig with Vieirinha blast (video)

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Outworked and outperformed in the first half of their playoff second leg at Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg needed a wake-up call to steady its hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.

That came off the boot of longtime right back Vieirinha, as the Portuguese veteran ran onto a rebound and fired a 17-yard arrow into the goal to boost Wolfsburg aggregate lead to 2-0.

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

That would mean the 2.Bundesliga hosts would need three goals to give the second tier a third promotion this season. An 82nd minute red card to Braunschweig’s Maximilian Sauer effectively ended those far-off dreams.

Ingolstadt and Darmstadt were relegated in the season, and Stuttgart and Hannover were promoted from 2.Bundesliga.