The quarterfinals weren’t special, but Wasim believes we’ll see the magic of the FA Cup in the semis and the final as Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City duke it out for honours in the world’s oldest cup competition.
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Everton kept their season alive after an excellent win over Chelsea in the FA Cup quarterfinals.The following are the player ratings for the match.
Joel Robles 7
Had little to do, but was effective when called upon. Did well to tip over a Willian free kick, but rather than any spectacular saves it was two moments that combined decision-making and positioning that were pivotal. After Pedro was released by a through ball in the first half, Robles did well to not commit when his compatriot had a sight on goal, depriving Chelsea of a shot on goal. Then in the second half, Diego Costa was released in a similar manner and Robles did excellently to drive the forward wide enough, so that even when the shot came it was at an incredibly difficult angle. Small moments, but the game could have had a different outcome if Chelsea would have scored first.
Leighton Baines 6
After Everton’s recent defensive calamities, solid had to prioritized over spectacular and Baines delivered in that regard. Nullified the threat of Willian and Pedro while going toe to toe in an intense battle with Azpilicueta. Didn’t commit to as many forays forward as usual and delivered a few dangerous set pieces that tested the Chelsea defence.
Phil Jagielka 6
Solid and stable. Jagielka was rarely threatened and was calm and collected whenever called upon. 12 clearances with minimum fuss, Roberto Martinez will rely on Jagielka to lead by example at Wembley if Everton are to finally win their first silverware of the century.
Ramiro Funes Mori 7
The Argentinean was excellent. Chelsea’s forwards seem to have targeted Funes Mori over Jagielka, but the centre back won every battle against Costa, Willian and Pedro while winning all the aerial duels he was involved in. Frightened the Chelsea defence with some excellent runs in to the box on set pieces and probably should have opened the scoring with an excellent header.
Seamus Coleman 6
Like Baines, Coleman didn’t venture forward as is his wont. Seemed to be caught out by Kenedy’s pace and trickery in the first 15 minutes of the match before settling into a strong defensive display. Kept possession well in Chelsea’s half of the pitch and played some cute passes that released Aaron Lennon in space.
James McCarthy 7
Neat and tidy, composed in possession and took up excellent positions when Chelsea had the ball. With McCarthy in such form, Everton always look like a composed team. Easily outclassed Mikel and Matic.
Gareth Barry 4
While the midfield veteran was calm in possession and played some excellent passes, Barry committed silly fouls throughout. Should have received a yellow card long before his first one in the 84th minute and compounded his stupidity with an unnecessary foul on Fàbregas just minutes later. A deserved red card and on another day his daftness could have cost the Toffees dearly.
Tom Cleverley 6
Took the most advanced positions from midfield in the first half and had two half-chances courtesy of some smart late runs. Didn’t really do much in the second half, but Cleverley will always be a player with anonymous phases in a match.
Ross Barkley 7
Made some frustrating decisions in the final third for most of the match, but played a key role in Everton gaining a foothold in the second half. Intelligent running and passing in the second half consistently stretched Chelsea’s back four. Generously awarded an assist for the first goal, his pass for the second goal had the precise weight, rounding up an impressive performance.
Aaron Lennon 5
Infuriating. Lennon may have hit a patch of good form in the past month thanks to his scoring but the winger remains as frustrating with his decision making as at any point in his career. Found in some excellent positions out wide, Lennon never found his teammates thanks to some terrible crossing.
Romelu Lukaku 9
Lukaku finally got his first goal against Chelsea since being sold by them and what a goal it was. Combining pace, strength and finesse, the Belgian outwitted Chelsea’s defenders before calmly finishing. The goal will surely be replayed for years to come as a great FA Cup memory. Followed it up with an assured finish with his weaker right foot. A reminder then, that Lukaku is still only 22.
Thibaut Courtois 6
Couldn’t do much about either of Lukaku’s strikes. Didn’t actually face much other than the two goals and calmly collected some dangerous set pieces.
Started the game with some enterprising runs in attack and showcased some exciting moments of trickery. However, inexperience was exposed in the second half as Everton continuously attacked his flank. Was guilty of playing Lukaku onside for the decisive second goal.
Gary Cahill 7
One of his best displays this season. Imperious in the air and some excellent last-ditch tackles kept Everton from scoring earlier in the game. Outwitted by Lukaku for the opening goal, but not many centre backs would have been able to cope with that moment of skill. Will be expected to keep up the same standards to finish the season heading in to Euro 2016.
Branislav Ivanovic 5
A performance to remind every one of his early season foibles. The only difference was that this was in his preferred position of centre back. The Serb was beaten in the air early in the second half when the hosts had a string of corners and was outpaced by Lukaku and Barkley on different occasions during the game. Recent run of good form brought to a shuddering halt.
César Azpilicueta 6
Another tireless performance from one of Chelsea’s most consistent players this season. Did well defensively until Lukaku’s moment of magic. Offered himself as an attacking outlet whenever Chelsea had the ball, although his final delivery was not of the expected standard.
John Obi Mikel 6
Effective in possession and tried his best to help the defence by taking up deeper positions as the game wore on. Couldn’t prevent Everton overrunning the midfield but there was only so much he could do on his own. Which brings us to …
Nemanja Matic 4
Matic hasn’t been a regular recently and Guus Hiddink must be cursing himself for reinstating the Serb in the starting line-up. Last season’s midfield stalwart has had a startling decline this season, further compounded by an ineffective display at Goodison. Hardly got a tackle right, ceded possession and then ran out of gas in the second half. Will have a tough job convincing the new Chelsea manager to keep him in the squad.
Cesc Fàbregas 7
The only true creative presence on the pitch for the Blues. Fàbregas was head and shoulders above everyone else in Chelsea’s front six. His beautifully weighted through balls resulted in the two best chances for the visitors. Tried to keep the Blue’s play vertical but his colleagues were just not on the same wavelength.
An honest performance as has become the norm for the Brazilian. The stardust has receded a little in the past few weeks, but Willian gave his best, bringing out a good save from Robles after a dangerous free kick. Substituted when arguably should have stayed on in stead of …
Pedro Rodríguez 5
Another underwhelming performance from what was supposed to be a statement signing for Chelsea. Made a hash of a decent chance and was generally anonymous for the game. Can’t remember him beating either full back and shanked two horrible crosses when Chelsea were chasing the game.
Diego Costa 3
Probably the most overdue red card in English football history. While Costa was actually decent with the ball, he was his usual nasty self off it. Didn’t take long to get in the wars with Barry and was no surprise his sending off came after another altercation with the same adversary. Might suffer a big suspension if the FA reviews the video of him trying to bite Barry. A recent upturn in form will now be a mere footmark in an unsavoury season for the Spanish forward.