‘Awful’ – National media says the same thing about Chelsea after Leicester FA Cup drama

By Staff

Predicting Chelsea from minute to minute remains a fruitless exercise. The club’s continued defiance to taking control, seeing out matches, riding through tough periods, playing for calmness, or doing the expected is certainly entertaining, if not massively frustrating.

Against Championship leaders – at the time – Leicester, they showed the full range of brilliance worthy of competing for a top-four place in the Premier League as well as levels of chaotic destruction that an Under-11 side would shudder at the thought of. Are you not entertained?

For the first 45 minutes, in which they ended up leading 2-0 but had already started to turn sour after a series of increasingly jarring Raheem Sterling misses, there was relative ease within the ground. Chelsea were comfortable if not spectacular, looking able to score or at least get the ball into the opposition box at will. On the other hand they were extremely open in transition and have only poor end product to thank for not being punished.

The familiar sense of second-half blues kicked in when Axel Disasi somehow managed to usurp Robert Sanchez’s misplaced pass earlier in the campaign to Declan Rice for the biggest defensive blunder. His halfway line own goal would have made most laugh even in the circumstances if it hadn’t meant almost inevitable self-destruction to follow.

Then came the Leicester siege and the equaliser. Chelsea’s opening – a red card for Callum Doyle – came courtesy of a simple punt downfield that really shouldn’t be splitting open teams at any level. Sterling boos and yet more chants aimed at Mauricio Pochettino came and went before three moments of quality that the preceding 20 minutes really didn’t deserve.

Cole Palmer did the Cole Palmer thing, Carney Chukwuemeka showed why he has been so missed this campaign and Noni Madueke fired in a long-range belter to cap off a staggering match that not even Chelsea can claim to understand the most of. For those that have watched the Blues this season, it was yet another demonstration of barmy tides just happening.

READ MORE: Raheem Sterling woeful, Cole Palmer superb – Chelsea player ratings vs Leicester in FA Cup win

READ MORE: Every word Mauricio Pochettino said on Raheem Sterling boos, Mudryk substitution and Wembley

Here is how it went down with the wider national media.


Former Chelsea winger and BBC Radio Five Live co-commentator Pat Nevin picked out Sterling for some tough analysis. “The storyline with Raheem Sterling, even before he missed his penalty, he wasn’t having a good day,” the Scotsman said.

“He was having a stinker. He really wasn’t having a good day. His decision-making was awful. When he took that free-kick near the end, which almost made it into the second tier of the Matthew Harding Stand, it was almost difficult do it, the entire crowd turned on him.”

Jonathan Wilson focused on the inconsistency at show at Stamford Bridge. “Blink often enough and you can persuade yourself things are beginning to come into focus for Chelsea,” he wrote. “This side are a long way from the sort of consistency that would allow them to mount anything resembling a title challenge, shaky at the back even when they’re not scoring spectacular own goals, but there are perhaps just signs that the front part of the team, tentatively, uncertainly, is beginning to emerge from the fog.

“Nicolas Jackson is emblematic of the project. The Senegal forward is still only 22 and had started just 16 top-flight games when he arrived from Villarreal last summer. Perhaps had Christopher Nkunku been fit, less would have been expected of him – although given Nkunku is not an out‑and‑out striker, perhaps not – but, as it was, Jackson was expected to lead the line straight away.”

Nizaar Kinsella also looked towards Sterling. “In remarkable second-half scenes, Sterling was booed and there were chants of ‘get him off’ from the Matthew Harding End.

“It came moments after he skied a free-kick high into the stand after Callum Doyle was sent off for his last-man foul. Sterling had earlier missed a penalty and a one-on-one, but got an excellent assist for Palmer to make partial amends during a difficult first half.

“The home supporters booed Pochettino’s decision to take off Mykhailo Mudryk instead of Sterling when Carney Chukwuemeka came on the pitch. Where does Sterling, who looks low on confidence, go from here?”

Miguel Delaney writes: “A turnaround in a few senses, on the day, and even in decades.

“Chelsea’s private equity owners are essentially subjecting the squad to an unseen experiment in modern football recruitment but all it seems to have done for the moment is to return the club to something like the mid-1990s. They are erratic cup specialists who look like they have potential but so many issues.

“This 4-2 FA Cup win over Leicester City put them into their second domestic semi-final of the season. The game was raucous and hugely entertaining but there were spells when the crowd was raging at Mauricio Pochettino.

“That was particularly the case when Chelsea dropped a 2-0 lead and two substitutions were questioned – especially when Mykhailo Mudryk was taken off for Carney Chukwuemeka, meaning the erratic Raheem Sterling was left on. Pochettino was then vindicated by the outcome. Whatever the thinking, it worked: Chukwuemeka scored the brilliant match-winning goal.”

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