LONDON — Chelsea beat Southampton 2-0 in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Sunday, with the Blues setting up an FA Cup final clash with Manchester United on May 19.
Here’s what we learned as Chelsea have set up a tasty clash with Jose Mourinho next month.
GIROUD AN ELEGANT ASSASSIN
Olivier Giroud is quickly becoming a cult hero at Chelsea. The Frenchman dribbled delicately around three Southampton defenders and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy before prodding home to put his side ahead.
It was a elegant, yet clumsy, goal and summed up Giroud’s penchant for delivering goals of the highest difficulty.
Giroud has now been involved in 22 goals in 26 FA Cup appearances (15 goals, 7 assists), more than any other player in the completion since his debut in 2013.
The Frenchman is now pushing hard to be Chelsea’s first-choice central striker ahead of Alvaro Morata, although the Spaniard did grab a goal late on to wrap up the win.
Giroud has scored four goals in 13 appearances in all competitions since arriving from Arsenal in January but the way he holds the ball up and links with Eden Hazard is a huge plus for Conte. Giroud could also start up top with Morata if Chelsea tweak their system and at the age of 31 there is still plenty of life left in him and not just as a late sub, the role Conte earmarked for him.
COULD CONTE STAY…
Antonio Conte will likely still leave Chelsea at the end of the season but the Italian coach seems to badly want his time at Chelsea to end with a trophy.
But here’s a thought: if Chelsea beat Man United and somehow make it into the top four at Tottenham’s expense (they are five points back with four games to go), will he remain in charge for the final year of his three-year contract?
The Blues cruised into the FA Cup final and looked fired up from the start as Eden Hazard pulled the strings and Giroud made a nuisance of himself.
Conte’s comments all season long suggest he will depart Chelsea this summer and seek a new project, but if he does so after winning the FA Cup (after being runners up last season) to go along with the PL title he won last season, and then finishing fifth, that’s not a bad two years in the PL.
The Italian will depart with his pride and reputation intact even if he doesn’t defeat his old foe Mourinho in the final next month.
Saints are in the Premier League’s relegation zone for a reason and their total lack of confidence was clear for all to see at Wembley.
Mark Hughes‘ men have four games left to save themselves but it almost seems as if Saints’ players have resigned themselves to relegation from the Premier League despite sitting just four points from safety. One win in their last 21 PL games (that came against West Brom) tells the story of a side crumbling before our eyes.
After they shipped 12 goals in four Premier League, all of them defeats, Hughes has set Saints up in a 5-3-1-1 formation to try and make them tougher to break down.
It is working, at least defensively, with a 0-0 draw at Leicester on Thursday, but going forward they totally lack any cohesion and only created three real chances on Sunday as Shane Long made a hash of a great opportunity, Charlie Austin hit the post and Nathan Redmond tested Willy Caballero.
Saints are in a really bad place as they now have to find a way to stop themselves hurtling towards relegation. Their game at home against Bournemouth next weekend is a must win. Simple.