What went wrong for Chelsea in their FA Cup defeat to Man City?

  • Chelsea lost 1-0 to Man City in FA Cup semi-final
  • Mauricio Pochettino's men had a plethora of chances to score
  • Analysis on what went wrong for west London side at Wembley
An ill-fated day for Chelsea at Wembley
An ill-fated day for Chelsea at Wembley / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

Once a place of triumph, Wembley has truly turned into a venue of disappointment for Chelsea.

Across recent seasons, the west London outfit have suffered defeats in key finals: the 2019 League Cup loss to Manchester City under Maurizio Sarri, Arsenal's victory over Frank Lampard's squad in the 2020 FA Cup, and Thomas Tuchel's side's defeat to Leicester City in the 2021 FA Cup.

Tuchel's Chelsea were again bested in both the 2022 EFL and FA Cup finals to Liverpool - notably on penalties after goalless draws - and Mauricio Pochettino's men have only added to the woes with a League Cup final loss to Liverpool in February,

And now this.

This was a 1-0 semi-final defeat against a City team fatigued and frustrated from a recent Champions League exit.

So what went wrong this time? Read on as 90min gives you their take...

A lack of cutting edge

Nicolas Jackson, Kyle Walker
Jackson failed to find the back of the net / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Chelsea rued a string of missed opportunities as they succumbed to a youthful and injury-plagued Liverpool in back in February. That sense of 'what if' resurfaced as Bernardo Silva's late goal secured victory for City on Saturday, leaving Chelsea to ponder their chances once more.

Nicolas Jackson will undoubtedly be making headlines nationwide after the abundance of opportunities he had for Chelsea at Wembley.

It's worth mentioning that the Senegalese striker proved to be quite a handful, consistently pressuring City's tired defence with his speed. However, this positive impact will unfortunately be overshadowed by the chances he failed to convert.

In what could be considered his prime opportunity, Jackson broke the offside trap, rounded goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, but failed to shoot. Later, he squandered another one-on-one, and then had a couple of other chances in the second half that lacked the necessary conviction.

It was a bad afternoon for Jackson and Pochettino will certainly now know that if Cole Palmer does not score, goals will be hard to come by in this current Chelsea team.

Hard luck

Conor Gallagher, Cole Palmer, Michael Oliver
Palmer believed his side should have had a penalty. / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Pochettino and his men will recount a tale of hard luck, as referee Michael Oliver opted not to award a penalty during this clash at Wembley.

Just before the hour mark, hotshot Palmer positioned himself for a free-kick just outside City's 18-yard box. And despite his best efforts, his strike was blocked by the wall of players standing before him.

However, Chelsea's players were instant in their appeals to the referee as the ball had appeared to strike a hand as it was blocked. Replays showed the ball did in fact make contact with winger Jack Grealish, although the referee and VAR officials on the day weren't interested in awarding a spot kick for the incident.

A fresh perspective captured from just behind Pochettino on the sidelines reveals Grealish's arm actually making a movement towards the ball. Given that this action impeded Palmer's shot from progressing toward the goal and appeared to be intentional, it strongly suggests that the Blues should have been awarded a clear penalty.

Palmer has been exceptional in front of goal throughout this season and has established himself as one of the top penalty takers. With his proficiency, there's a strong likelihood that the 21-year-old would have successfully converted from 12 yards out, potentially altering the entire outcome of the game.

Psychological pressure

Mauricio Pochettino
Pochettino is yet to win silverware in England / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

Considering Chelsea's recent track record at Wembley, it's reasonable to suggest that the team might have carried a significant burden into this weekend's match.

The string of disappointments and missed opportunities in crucial matches at the iconic stadium could have lingered in the minds of the players, adding pressure to perform. Each defeat, each missed chance to claim silverware, would have left its mark, potentially creating a sense of apprehension as they returned to the scene of past heartbreaks.

The psychological aspect of competing at Wembley, coupled with the desire to break the streak of defeats, could have posed a formidable challenge for the team as they sought to overcome the ghosts of their recent past and emerge victorious.

Meanwhile, Pochettino is also pursuing his first trophy in England. Despite his successful managerial career, which has seen him lead teams to domestic and European success elsewhere, the elusive English silverware has remained out of reach. For Pochettino, this match held significant importance not only for the club but also for his personal quest for glory.