Soccer

Premier League and FA Cup double is definitely on for Chelsea

The way Chelsea beat Tottenham in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final showed why they are going to win the Premier League title too.
Premier League and FA Cup double is definitely on for Chelsea

As usual, Antonio Conte’s side were dogged and resilient – and the manager’s gameplan worked perfectly.

They were content to soak up Spurs’ pressure and possession and, when they went up the other end, they took their chances brilliantly.

The Blues scored four goals against the team with the best defensive record in the top flight, so you cannot say they did not deserve their victory.

And anyone who doubted Chelsea after their defeats by Manchester United and Crystal Palace just had to watch them at Wembley to see how good they are.

This was a superb display that won a brilliant cup tie and, psychologically, could and probably should pull them across the line in the title race too.

They know they beat their closest rivals despite not having three key players for the majority of the game – centre-back Gary Cahill, who was out injured, and winger Eden Hazard and striker Diego Costa, who came off the bench with less than half an hour to play.

Conte’s decision to leave Costa and, in particular, Hazard out of his starting line-up was a huge call – but it worked.

The guy he brought in for Hazard – Willian – scored twice. Then, when he brought Hazard on in the second half, the Belgium international changed the game.

Hazard scored Chelsea’s vital third goal and he also rolled the ball into Nemanja Matic for his fantastic strike to make it 4-2.

When you make big decisions, you want them to work in your favour, and things could not really have worked out any better for Conte on Saturday.

The Italian has not got very much wrong in his first season in the Premier League, especially since switching to his favoured formation of three at the back at the end of September.

The double is definitely on, which would be an incredible achievement.

Kenny Dalglish (with Liverpool in 1986) and Carlo Ancelotti (with Chelsea in 2010) are the only other managers to have done it in their first season in England, and now Conte has a fantastic chance of doing the same.

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