In the most hyped match of the FA Cup quarter-finals, Chelsea traveled to King Power Stadium to face Leicester City. In a relatively cagey affair, Chelsea grabbed the winner in extra time through the head of Pedro and managed to hold on for a 2-1 victory.
Playing against his former club, Leicester City, Kante put in a brilliant performance. As he usually does, Kante showed incredible energy as he dominated the midfield. Seemingly never tired, Kante consistently covered the Chelsea back line and stopped multiple Leicester counter-attacks. His greatest attribute has always been his pace and work-rate and those were both on full display today.
In addition, Kante also looked quite comfortable on the ball today. His distribution and long balls were both fantastic. The apex of his day came when he assisted Pedro’s game-winner with a lofted cross into the box. Kante has always been known for his defensive abilities and work-rate. However, he has begun to evolve into a complete midfielder and should certainly be in discussions for the best DM in the world.
Against Chelsea, Albrighton was clearly the best player on the pitch for the home side. Similar to Kante for Chelsea, Albrighton was all over the pitch for Leicester. He consistently bombed down each wing and put dangerous balls into the box. His crosses created many of Leicester’s best opportunities going forward. Albrighton was rather unlucky that no Leicester player was able to finish any of his balls into the box. With a little more quality from Leicester’s attackers, Albrighton easily could have finished with multiple assists.
Albrighton was immense tracking back, finishing with three tackles. He also blocked a shot from Kante late in extra time in order to keep Leicester in the match. Despite not being on the winning side, Albrighton can certainly hold his head high after his performance.
Morata did not have an exceptional match but his performance was certainly a step in the right direction. He got himself into decent scoring positions throughout the game making runs in behind Leicester’s back line. His good movement finally paid off as Willian was able to find him running in and he was able to put the ball past Kasper Schmeichel to put Chelsea up 1-0.
This goal should provide Morata with some much-needed confidence moving forward. He has been noticeably out of form and the pressure that has been mounting on him has been obvious. However, it is clear that the Chelsea attack operates most smoothly when Morata is up top. Morata’s performance was promising but he does need to become a much more consistent finisher to live up to Chelsea’s expectations
Eden Hazard’s performance wasn’t necessarily awful but it did not live up to his normal standard of play. Hazard often looked lazy and disinterested throughout the game. His effort and work-rate certainly left a lot to be desired. When going forward, he often tried little flicks that rarely seemed to produce anything of substance. In addition, he also failed to recognize many of Morata’s runs forward. And when he did see Morata’s runs, the balls he played were lacking in quality.
Hazard has looked absolutely exhausted in recent weeks. But already five points out of top four, Chelsea cannot afford to rest him for many Premier League games.
Far removed from his form in Leicester’s title-winning campaign in 2015-2016, Schmeichel has been very mistake prone recently. In this match, Schmeichel misjudged a cross in the middle of extra time that led to Chelsea’s winning goal. He came to collect, but horribly misjudged the ball and could not get there in time. With Schmeichel out of position, Pedro headed the ball into the net and gave Chelsea a 2-1 lead.
Errors such as these for a goalkeeper of Schmeichel’s quality are completely inexcusable. With these errors becoming more and more common, Leicester supporters have to wonder if Schmeichel’s time as a top goalkeeper is coming to an end.
What this all means
Following the match, the FA Cup semi-final draw occurred. Chelsea got the easiest draw of the four teams and will face Southampton. In the other semi-final, Tottenham Hotspur will face Manchester United. With all four of these teams out of Europe and the title race, the FA Cup is their best chance to win a trophy.
Featured image by Andrew Yates/Reuters
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