Chelsea analysis: Willian still haunting Tottenham as brave Eden Hazard decision pays off for Antonio Conte

simon johnson

Nemanja Matic's thunderbolt sent Chelsea into the FA Cup final in style, condemning Tottenham to yet more Wembley woe and giving Mauricio Pochettino's men a bloody nose ahead of the title run-in.

England's best sides took a break from their increasingly exciting duel for the Premier League crown, instead renewing hostilities in a Wembley battle that lived up to the hype.

Tottenham twice clawed their way back in this thrilling semi-final, only for Antonio Conte's table toppers to run out 4-2 victors as Matic's remarkable drive complemented game-changing substitute Eden Hazard's strike.

Whatever the pre-match posturing, ending Spurs' eight-match winning run in all competitions will give the Blues a psychological boost with six league games remaining.

Simon Johnson was at Wembley Stadium to assess the key talking points...

Willian is still haunting Spurs


Willian has been a crowd favourite at Stamford Bridge ever since he rejected Tottenham at the 11th hour and opted to join Chelsea instead four years ago.

Regardless of how well he plays, you can often hear the chant composed by Blues fans to commemorate that occasion at games most weeks.

The Brazil international has not featured as regularly this term, but is still a huge favourite and the love affair with Chelsea went up another level at Wembley.

It was his superb free kick which gave Chelsea the early lead. He also restored their advantage with a cool penalty just before the break.

Spurs have a number of quality players of their own, but Willian's display will ensure he remains a popular figure in west London and a source of discomfort at the Lane.

Batshuayi justifies his selection

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There was a lot of speculation about Antonio Conte's line-up, but no-one saw Batshuayi's selection coming.

This is a player who Conte has bizarrely ignored for most of the campaign, despite his £33.1m transfer fee from Marseille.

The Belgium international has started just five games this term, the last last of which was in January.

But he showed no signs of rustiness here as he made life difficult for the Tottenham defenders, even with limited service.

Put it this way, its was a marked improvement on the way Diego Costa played last Sunday.

Costa replaced him on the hour, but Perhaps Batshuayi will feature a bit more from now on.

Chelsea must keep Nathan Ake

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When the club decided to cut Ake's loan from Bournemouth prematurely in January, it looked like a really positive sign for his Chelsea career.

Just two starts in the FA Cup since then has suggested otherwise and the Dutchman could be forgiven for wishing he was still playing on the south coast.

But an untimely illness for Gary Cahill finally gave Ake his opportunity and he showed why he has such great potential.

While some will question his positioning for Spurs' first equaliser, he didn't let it affect his performance.

There were a number of key interceptions and big tackles against players of a high calibre.

It wasn't faultless by any means, but to show this mentality on such a big stage suggests Ake can become a useful addition to the first team squad for years to come.

Conte's bravery rewarded


The outcry on social media following Chelsea's team announcement suggested that Conte's relationship with the club's fans, as well as an FA Cup Final place, was at risk.

To pick Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench gave the impression that the Italian was prioritising Chelsea's League game against Southampton on Tuesday.

It may have been accepted if his team were facing Manchester City, but to do it against their most fierce rivals was a major gamble.

Had Chelsea lost to Spurs under these circumstances, there may have been a section of supporters that may never have forgiven him - even if they went on to win the League.

Instead, it worked a treat and has made him more worshipped than ever. Morale in the camp has been lifted too and their title hopes have been given the boost it sorely needed going into the Southampton clash.

Luiz puts in a monster performance on his birthday


The Brazil international was rightly named man of the match as he repelled one Tottenham attack after another.

Speaking to Standard Sport in the build-up to the game, Luiz suggested that Chelsea's opponents were a team full of monsters and it would take a monster display to beat them.

And so it proved. With the inexperienced Ake to his left hand side, it gave the Brazilian even more responsibility at the back.

Luiz, on his 30th birthday, put in a sublime display, seemingly everywhere to head or kick the ball to safety.

Captain John Terry is leaving at the end of the season partly because of Luiz's importance to the side. Today we saw why.

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