Kepa Arrizabalaga and Billy Gilmour impressed as Chelsea beat Sheffield United 2-0 to progress to the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday.
Chelsea dominated the proceedings in the first half, but chances came few and far between in what turned out to be a drab opening period. The Blues did break the deadlock midway through the first half, though, albeit in fortuitous circumstances as a driven ball by Ben Chilwell was turned into his own net by Oliver Norwood.
The Blues had another opening coming their way shortly after courtesy of another error by Norwood, but Christian Pulisic failed to convert from close range. Post the half-time break, Sheffield United were much-improved and took the game to Chelsea. In fact, David McGoldrick saw the best chance of the game coming his way, only to inexplicably miss a header from point-blank range.
Shortly after, Oliver McBurnie was denied by a fabulous save by Kepa Arrizabalaga. Then, against the run of play, Chelsea sealed the deal deep into injury time, as Hakim Ziyech scored for a second successive game to send the hosts safely through to the FA Cup semi-finals. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 7/10
Handed a rare start, Kepa barely had anything to do in the first half but turned up clutch when Sheffield United tested him with a big effort by Oliver McBurnie. The Spaniard was equal to whatever the visitors threw at him and helped Chelsea to a clean sheet. Job well done.
Andreas Christensen: 7/10
Back in the side after recovering from an illness, Christensen produced a professional display at the back, winning 4 duels while making 2 clearances and as many tackles. Dealt with the threat of David McGoldrick quite well and completed 88 percent of his attempted passes. A solid effort.
Kurt Zouma: 7/10
Retaining his spot in the side, Zouma played a big role in Chelsea’s win, as he kept the backline organised even when Sheffield United were in the ascendancy. In fact, apart from the moment when McBurnie tested Kepa, he did not really put a foot wrong and kept a check on Sheffield United’s strikers ably. Also completed 94 percent of the passes he attempted.
Emerson Palmieri: 6/10
After scoring the late goal against Atletico Madrid, Emerson was rewarded with a start and he took his place as a centre-back. The Italian international ended up being a bit awkward in the position and had to be guided a lot by Kurt Zouma. In the end, though, his struggles did not hurt Chelsea, who are now safely through to the FA Cup semi-finals.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 6/10
Starting as the right wing-back, Hudson-Odoi had the responsibility of finding Olivier Giroud with his deliveries. While the Englishman did send in some inviting crosses, none of them met their target and he managed to complete just 1 key pass before being taken off for Kai Havertz.
Billy Gilmour: 7/10
Handed a rare start, Gilmour made his presence felt in the middle of the park and did not shy away from putting in some crunching tackles. Also won 6 of the 7 duels he contested while retaining a superb pass completion rate of 92 percent. Despite still being in his teens, Gilmour shows no fright of the stage and does have a bright future ahead of him.
Billy Gilmour v Sheffield United:
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) March 21, 2021
Mateo Kovacic: 7/10
Retaining his spot in the side, Kovacic continued to be a colossal presence in midfield and he was a big reason why Chelsea dominated the proceedings in the first half as well as they did. Put in the hard yards off the ball as well, winning 13 of the 14 ground duels he contested while also completing 4 tackles and 2 clearances. Faded a little in the second half, but still worked hard defensively.
Ben Chilwell: 7/10
A decent display by Chilwell on his return to the side. The Englishman, in fact, had a role to play in both the goals that Chelsea scored, first sending in a whipped cross-shot that was turned into his own net by Oliver Norwood. He then grabbed the assist when Hakim Ziyech scored the second goal. In between it all, Chilwell flitted in and out of the game but also managed a 94 percent pass rate.
Mason Mount: 6/10
The skipper on the day before Cesar Azpilicueta’s introduction, it was not the best of displays by Mount. The English international played in a multitude of positions against Sheffield United, but could not really manage to fashion the openings as well as he does, managing just 1 key pass and a single shot off target.
Christian Pulisic: 6/10
Back in the starting lineup, Pulisic proved to be the brightest spark in an otherwise dull Chelsea attack. However, while he did manage to get into scoring positions, his finishing was lacklustre, as Aaron Ramsdale saved his two shots on target with ease. Has to do better to win his place as a regular.
Olivier Giroud: 5/10
A frustrating outing for Giroud, who was left isolated for much of the hour or so he spent on the pitch. In fact, the Frenchman managed just 19 touches on the ball and could not muster up a single shot on target before being taken off for Reece James.
Reece James: 6/10
Hardly saw the ball and did not get many opportunities to whip in the crosses after replacing Giroud. In fact, the English international managed to attempt just eight passes during his stay on the pitch. Defended reasonably well, though, winning each of the three duels he contested.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 5/10
A difficult outing for the Chelsea captain, who could not really contain the Sheffield United attackers all that well for the most part in the final half-hour or so.
Hakim Ziyech: 7/10
Champions League RO16: Goal ⚽️
FA Cup Quarter-Final: Goal ⚽️
Hakim Ziyech 👏 pic.twitter.com/3SU6sklEjf
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) March 21, 2021
Ziyech did not really get involved a great deal upon being subbed in, but when it mattered the most, he delivered the goods by converting from close range to book Chelsea’s place in the next round.
Kai Havertz: 6/10
With Sheffield United still being the better of the two sides, Havertz did not see much of the ball, although he did complete 9 of the 10 passes he attempted.
N’Golo Kante: N/A
A late introduction, Kante helped see the game out.