Now seeking a maiden honour as a manager, the 45-year-old’s Crystal Palace side have caught the eye in recent weeks with a spate of strong performances – Manchester City and Arsenal are well aware of the Eagles’ power – but last weekend’s defeat to Leicester City showed that they are still far from the finished product. Millwall, Hartlepool United, Stoke City and Everton have all been dumped out of this season’s FA Cup by Palace – who have scored at least two goals in all of those games while only conceding two overall – but they are the only team left in the competition who do not already have an FA Cup in their trophy cabinet.
They’ll have to do so without star midfielder Conor Gallagher, though, as he’s on loan from Chelsea. The club did ask for special dispensation for him to play, but Chelsea turned down the request. To make matters worse, his most likely replacement, Michael Olise, has missed the past two games and may not be fit. Will that give Chelsea the edge in this FA Cup semi-final? You can find out by watching the Chelsea vs Crystal Palace live stream — and we’ll show you how to do that below.
The Eagles went down to Manchester United in the 1990 final before falling to the Red Devils’ superiority once more back in 2016, but they had strung together a seven-game unbeaten streak before the recent loss to Leicester – a stellar run which included four successive clean sheets against stiff opposition. Chelsea were made to work for their 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park back in February, but that narrow triumph represented the Blues’ ninth win on the bounce in this fixture, and they will be in no mood to be the victims of the next FA Cup shock after their European heartache.
Cesar Azpilicueta made a rapid recovery from COVID-19 to make the bench at the Bernabeu and could now force his way back into the side over Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Timo Werner ought to hold his place in the attack after two strong showings continentally and domestically. Meanwhile, Palace will not have Conor Gallagher at their disposal this weekend after the midfielder’s parent club declined a request to allow him to play in the semi-final, and his spot in the engine room ought to be filled by James McArthur. Left-back Tyrick Mitchell had to be taken off with a calf injury in the loss to Leicester but is expected to shake off the issue in time to start at Wembley, while Michael Olise has a strong chance of recovering from his foot problem in time to make the squad as well.
Dumped out of the Champions League in midweek, out of the title race, beaten finalists in the EFL Cup, massive external factors weighing on the entire club – the FA Cup is the last chance saloon to put a smile on Chelsea fans’ faces this season. The Stamford Bridge outfit face Crystal Palace in the semi-final at Wembley on Sunday, with a place in the final against either Liverpool or Manchester City in the offing. Will we get a reaction from Thomas Tuchel’s men this weekend? Or can an on-the-up Crystal Palace side return to the FA Cup Final for only the second time in 32 years?
Palace have had some fine results yesterday and look resurgent under Patrick Viera. With everything going on at Chelsea at the moment, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles come out on top in this one. Chelsea’s left-hand side remains slightly depleted in the absences of Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi – the latter of whom could now take weeks to recover from an Achilles issue – while Romelu Lukaku is dealing with pain in the same area. The Belgian did not travel with the squad to Madrid but is now back in training, while Ross Barkley has recovered from an illness but was never going to start at Wembley.
Not since the EFL Cup final defeat to Liverpool have Chelsea failed to find the back of the net, and the Blues appear to have recovered from that temporary blip at the start of the month, so a shot at a ninth FA Cup crown is firmly within their sights, but Tuchel’s opposite number knows a thing or two about success in the prestigious competition. On May 21, 2005, Patrick Vieira kicked the ball for the very last time as an Arsenal player, and his perfectly-placed spot kick propelled Arsenal to the FA Cup crown at the expense of Manchester United – his fourth and final medal in the competition with the Gunners.