Liverpool vs. Chelsea: 5 Lessons Learned from Chelsea's FA Cup Final Victory
Chelsea won their seventh FA Cup Saturday after an exciting 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Wembley. Goals from Ramires and can’t-miss-at-Wembley Didier Drogba were enough to overcome Andy Carroll's second-half score.
Roberto Di Matteo is helping his argument to remain the coach of the club for the long term, as his side once again rose to the challenge when it mattered. It was a good result coming off of a tough defeat to Newcastle in the midweek that effectively took them out of contention for fourth place in the EPL.
However, today's win at least guaranteed Chelsea a Europa League spot, so European competition will be on their schedule next season—though Champions League is still the goal. With their final against Bayern Munich two weeks away, the Blues will be happy to go in with a winning attitude.
Here are five things we learned from the FA Cup win.
Ramires Is the Biggest Goal Threat on Chelsea
Ramires has now scored three goals and added an assist in Chelsea's last five contests in which he has played a majority of the game. All of these contributions were made the same way: Ramires sprinting down the sideline at full speed, pushing the ball all the way to the box and finishing brilliantly.
When Ramires came to the squad, he did so as a central midfielder, but Di Matteo's decision to move him out wide has been the best tactical move the manager has made in his tenure.
That kind of planning goes well beyond just putting a really fast guy out wide in space in a countering system, though. It works only because of who partners Ramires on that side.
Jose Bosingwa is Chelsea's biggest defensive liability, with opposing managers often attempting to engineer attacks down that flank; it sucks in the wingers and the full-back to advance positions. When the ball turns over, the already quick-footed Ramires is yards ahead of the defender, giving him an easy route into the opponent's half.
From there on, it is training-ground stuff.
The Old Bosingwa Is Back
I'm like a naive husband who wonders where my wife goes until 3 a.m. every weekend, and when she tells me she just went out for coffee, I accept it as truth, though deep down I know that she is lying.
That's what Bosingwa's past few games have been like.
The Portuguese full-back has been the only player Chelsea fans have unanimously struggled to appreciate this season. He has been atrocious in 95 percent of the matches he has played, giving in way too easily to runs and getting beat on dribbles to the inside.
But for the most important stretch of Chelsea's season—in games against Tottenham, Barcelona, Arsenal and QPR—Bosingwa was brilliant.
I, like many, thought he might have finally turned the corner and would become at least reliable.
But over the week against Newcastle, he looked like shades of his old self, and then today, it was a sad return to form.
A little better play from Bosingwa could have and should have prevented a Liverpool goal. A safe clear to the sidelines would have prevented the lucky deflection. Even Petr Cech's goal-line stop was a result of Bosingwa not staying with Carroll.
With the suspensions for the Champions League final, Bosginwa will for sure get the start. If he plays as he has been over the past week, then Bayern will be loving their chances.
Drogba + Lampard = Good
I find it absolutely troubling that, according to The Sun, there is still talk about Drogba and Lampard being sold off following this season. I understand the contractual issues around Drogba, but you cannot put a price on what these two can produce when they are on the pitch together.
Chelsea's second goal was about as classic as you can get.
Lampard received the ball in the midfield, made one easy cut and played a smooth, 30-yard pass on the ground to Drogba. Drogba picked it up, took a touch to get his bounds and buried it into the low corner.
This was not one for the highlight reels, but the beauty of it was in its simplicity.
I often hear the term "creative midfielder" as some kind recognition that elite midfielders get for their play. However, the likes of Lampard are often overshadowed as "lesser" players because they do not do exceptional things with the ball.
But what a lot of commentators and fans seem to forget is that you only need to do enough to get the result.
Time and time again, this duo has done just that for the Blues.
Petr Cech Is Chelsea’s Player of the Year
It may seem a bit bold to make this statement, but I think it can be justified.
Cech got off to a rough start this campaign, but so did every Chelsea player. The system under Villas-Boas severely depleted the Blues' defense and left Cech open to unprecedented exposure.
But it requires going even beyond that to explain the keeper’s early mishaps.
Being a goalie is all about repetition and consistency. When you change everything around in front of one, you cannot expect the same results.
Since Di Matteo has taken over and Chelsea have gotten back to Chelsea football, Cech has been stellar in the net, with one of the top save percentages in the league and in Europe. He was also the biggest reason Chelsea upset Barcelona, making more saves than the number of completed passes by half the outfield players.
Today, he continued that run of form, making a sensational goal-line save on Andy Carroll and another diving one on an earlier Luis Suarez shot.
This season is shaping up to be more and more of a successful one for Chelsea, and much of that can be attributed to the man between the pipes. Cech is the one player you can say the club would not have gotten this far without.
Chelsea’s Season Is Saved
It is almost unreal to see a team that not more than three months ago was in real danger of exiting from the very same competition they just won. The reversal of form under Di Matteo is unprecedented for this club, or any other I can recall.
With the Champions League final in two weeks' time, the biggest match is yet to be played, but for me, this is enough to consider it a successful campaign.
Yes, there is, of course, the ever-looming threat of not qualifying for Champions League next season, but that was beyond Chelsea's control weeks ago. All they could do was continue to go for whatever they could, and right now, they are primed to make club history.
Another way to look at it is like this: If at the beginning of the season you were told that this Chelsea team was going to win the FA Cup and be in the Champions League final, would you have not been OK with that?
Winning the EPL is perhaps the most difficult thing to do in all of football. It is the only place where one or two slip-ups can eliminate you from the competition. There is a bit of fortune and coincidence that goes into it.
Chelsea have done the best they could with the hand dealt to them and can only add more to it on May 19. It may not have been an ideal year, but none of the players or managers should be shamed of it, even Villas-Boas.
At least he brought in Di Matteo, after all.
What Did You Learn?
Well, it was a nervy way to get a result, with Liverpool's pushing at the end, but what else would you expect from this Blues team? It has almost become commonplace for them to walk that fine line between falling asleep and playing responsibly in the back.
So far, though, the latter has seemed to work out.
So, what did you learn from Chelsea winning their first cup in two seasons?
Should Di Matteo stay put because of today's victory? Does this mean nothing if the club doesn't make Champions League?
As always, please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading!
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