Three things we learned from Chelsea’s win v. Tottenham

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Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday as Willian struck twice in the first half and Eden Hazard jumped off the bench to drill home and then set up Nemanja Matic to score a stunner.

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Both teams went after it but it is Chelsea who will face the winner of Arsenal and Manchester City (they play on Sunday) in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 27.

Here’s what we learned from a gripping clash at Wembley.


HAZARD, COSTA DECISION PAYS OFF

Before the game Antonio Conte‘s decision to put Diego Costa and Eden Hazard on the bench bemused everyone.

At the end of the game it looked like yet another masterclass from the Italian coach.

With the scored locked at 2-2, Conte sent on his two attacking stars and they made a big difference. Hazard put Chelsea 3-2 up with a fine low strike and then set up Matic to make it 4-2.

Costa’s presence was a tougher problem for Spurs’ defense to handle and he would’ve been the last person the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen would have wanted to see come on.

Conte got the biggest of calls spot on and now Hazard and Costa will be fresh for the big league game against Southampton on Tuesday as Chelsea aim to extend their lead atop the Premier League table to seven points.


PSYCHOLOGICAL BOOST GOES TO CHELSEA

With Spurs cutting Chelsea’s gap to four points ahead of this FA Cup semifinal, this match was about so much more than reaching the FA Cup final.

Chelsea weren’t on top for vast swathes of this match and indeed there only seemed to be one winner when Dele Alli equalized to make it 2-2. Tottenham were dominating midfield but Cesc Fabregas’ arrival calmed things down for Chelsea and the fact they could bring on Costa, Hazard and Fabrgeas said it all. The strength of their bench made a huge difference.

With Chelsea coming off the back of a damaging defeat at Manchester United, many people were looking for a response from the Blues.

It wasn’t pretty but Conte’s boys delivered a huge show of character as they dug deep and got by a red-hot Tottenham outfit and have given themselves a boost in the run-in as securing the double seems a real possibility.

This could be a massive moment in Chelsea winning the Premier League as Spurs will be left to lick their wounds and wonder what could have been once again at Wembley.


ERIKSEN, KANE, ALLI CAN’T HELP LIFT WEMBLEY CURSE

Harry Kane‘s deft header at the near post from Christian Eriksen‘s cross made it 1-1 and gave Spurs hope they could finally get over their Wembley curse. Then Dele Alli’s fine finish from another sublime Eriksen cross made it 2-2 to again give Tottenham hope as they battered Chelsea.

Think again.

Spurs have now played at Wembley five times this season, losing on there occasions, drawing once (but going out of the Europa League to Genk on aggregate) and winning just once. The stadium they’re widely expected to call home next season seems cursed and a decision on whether or not they’ll play all of their home games at Wembley next season is expected to be made in the coming days.

Their Wembly struggles aside, Tottenham have now lost seven consecutive FA Cup semifinals, something no other team in history has ever done.

Pochettino’s men will now focus solely on the Premier League as they look to hunt down Chelsea.

But make no mistake about it, losing at Wembley yet again could have huge ramifications on the decision over their home for next season.