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Chelsea vs Crystal Palace – FA Cup Semi Final

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well.

The FA Cup Semi Final day had finally arrived, and the Palace were on their way to Wembley! 28 days after beating Everton and securing our place in the Semi Final we were heading to Wembley for the first time since 2016 to face Chelsea! I’ve never been to watch Palace at Wembley, so this was a first experience, and I was lucky enough to share it with my family! We originally were going to go to box park as this was taken over by Palace, but we was unable to secure a guaranteed entrance ticket so couldn’t go there. Instead, we went to a local pub called ‘The Green Man” it had a huge garden and was too taken over by Palace fans, it was a fantastic morning. We left home at 9.30am to arrive there around 11 to really make the most of the day, my family could all get into here too so was definitely the better option then box park. It was really warm, so we was able to catch some rays whilst building up to the game. The pub was absolutely packed but everyone was in high spirits and were creating a great atmosphere. My cousin managed to get his hands on some red and blue face paint, so we became proper fans repping the colours! I would definitely recommend going to a pub before a big game it makes it an even bigger day. The walk to the stadium wasn’t too long and everything went very smoothly, even walking to the stadium it was so noisy as the Palace fans were out in force. We sat in a seat with a similar view to the one I had for the last England game, just on the other side of the dug out as the Chelsea fans had the other side. My family were spread all around the stadium, but I sat with my mum. My friend Anna who I met through Palace was sitting near us, so we managed to meet up again before the game started, I knew a lot of people who were at the game, but she was the only one we bumped into.

Like I said we had beaten Everton to secure our place; Chelsea had to beat Chesterfield, Plymouth Argyle, Luton Town, and Middlesbrough to gain their place (and some people said we had an easy run 🤔). Chelsea have had a few bumps in the road recently with the most recent being knocked out of the UCL and a 4-1 loss to Brentford, although they did manage to bounce back with a 6-0 win over Southampton last Premier League game week, so this game would be tough for us but maybe the tired legs would be helpful to us!

Patrick Vieira made 3 changes to the team compared to the last named squad against Leicester, these saw Eze, McArthur and Ward come in to replace Ayew, Gallagher and Clyne. Gallagher was the only forced change as he was illegible to play against his parent club, Conor was still at Wembley to support the boys and gave his time to the fans in the stadium before the game. Mitchell was in the starting 11 after a slight scare during the Leicester game which caused him to be subbed off early in the game, but I’m pretty sure this was precautionary. Finally, Olise was back squad after being out injured for the past few weeks.

Before the game there was a great display of red and blue flags being waved spanning the whole section behind the goal, there was also a banner across the bottom reading “South London Takeover”, this was the beginning of an amazing atmosphere from the Eagles! The boys wore their classic red and blue stripes under the Wembley arch as the sun shone down!

Before the commencing whistle could be blown all the balloons the Palace fans had used during the display had to be popped 😅. The game started pretty evenly but Chelsea had spurts where they asserted their dominance. Mitchell started the game well making some great tackles to start us on the attack for Zaha and Mateta, but we just lacked the vital final balls. It looked as though we were playing a 3-4-3 formation, not entirely sure how I feel about trying something new in a game like this, especially after we dominated Chelsea in the 1-0 loss a few months ago at Selhurst. We really looked up for it, going in for challenges, getting on the end of loose balls and didn’t just sit back to defend the whole game which was great to see! Mateta had another chance as he found himself in behind catching up to a ball from Ward, his shot went straight into the hands of Mendy. In the 23rd minute ‘Connor Gallagher’ was sung around the Palace end as he sat on the bench, I’m sure he heard the love from us as we try to convince him to stay! Chelsea fans didn’t really have much to shout about in the opening stages as they saw their shots either soar over the bar or into the arms of Butland. Good to see Eze back on free kick duties, he played a great ball in behind after seeing the run of Andersen, but it was just too far in front for Joachim to reach. Chelsea got themselves a corner but didn’t capitalise on it, Zaha worked hard to win the ball back on the edge of their box and try release us on a counterattack, but again we just lacked the final ball, this was the case for the majority of the game! Another free kick was whipped in by Eze creating a huge change, the initial header down was into the path of Kouyate who had a powerful shot from outside the box, the shot initially was saved by Mendy only into the path of Andersen who found himself round the back for the rebound which hit the post! He was offside so wouldn’t have counted anyway but some great signs on show. The midfield were having a good game looking compact and worked very hard to try close space to ultimately win the ball back. In the closing stages of the half Timo Werner was able to release Kai Havertz through the middle, he managed to control the ball but after passing Guehi decided to become an Olympic diver and throw himself to the floor, it was in the box so when the ref blew the whistle it could’ve gone either way … but thankfully he saw it was simulation from Havertz booked him and awarded us a free kick! Safe to say he wasn’t the most popular with the Palace fans for the remainder of the game, as he was booed with every touch of the ball.

A decent first half from us, it looked like the occasion meant as much for the players as it did for us travelling fans. The game could have gone either way judged on the first 45 minutes with it being pretty even, and to be going into the break 0-0 against Chelsea is a huge bonus, not that Chelsea deserved to be ahead.

The second half began with Chelsea immediately asserting their dominance. There was a really early substitution for us seeing Mateta leave the field for Ayew, not entirely sure why but I assume it’s due to the lack of delivery Mateta was getting and Ayew is the kind of player that would do the backtracking work. In the second half Palace were shooting towards the home fans so when had spurts of brilliance it hyped the fans up even more and the crowd grew even louder, this was also the case whenever Chelsea made a mistake Palace definitely had the 12th man advantage! It felt like the referee was against us in parts of the second half, Zaha was brought down twice in quick succession, but the ref frustratingly wasn’t interested in either. In the 65th minute Mitchell got caught on the ball as it was taken away from him by Azpilicueta in a very dangerous place, Havertz was then able to pull the ball back onto the edge of the box (via a deflection on Guehi) where early substitute Ruben Loftus Cheek was waiting and could release a rocketed shot towards goal, it took a small deflection off Andersen and sadly went straight past Butland and into the back of the net. Very sad times because we was putting up such a good fight in the first half and we just lacked it in the second! It hurts even more that it was the former Palace loanee that got the goal. Chelsea 1 - Palace 0 with 25 minutes to play. The Chelsea fans became the definition of ‘you only sing when your winning’, we didn’t hear a peep from them most of the game but as soon as they scored they wanted to be the loud fans. Although we were losing we still remained loud and proud standing strong behind the boys. The next set of subs came in the 72nd minute which saw Olise and Benteke come on in replace of McArthur and Schlupp. I felt there was an instant dynamic change when Olise came on it just felt more positive as he was making his runs. Ayew tried to work the ball forwards, but the Chelsea team remained strong, Olise was completely open on the opposite wing so if he could’ve found him it could have led to a chance but instead we ended up losing the ball. We lost the ball in the centre of the part as Ayew got caught, it was played out to Werner who played the ball quickly around our players linking up with Mason Mount, Mount had the final say as he poked the ball into the box past Andersen leaving his through on goal and able to bury it into the back of the net. Chelsea 2 - Palace 0. As soon as this goal went in we knew the cup run was over as we just hadn’t created enough during the time we had. We didn’t totally bow down to them still creating the odd chance. One chance that had to be scored was from Andersen, a corner was whipped in from Olise and helped on by Ayew to find Andersen at the back post, he was just unable to direct it into the back of the net as it went soaring over the bar. The final substitutions came late in the 85th minute which saw Milivojevic replace Kouyate, maybe Vieira was hoping for a miracle 2 goals and was preparing the penalty takers! The final opportunity we had was when a great ball was whipped out to Olise to run on too, the Chelsea box was too crowded with yellow shirts, so nothing came of it. The remainder of the game was controlled by Chelsea, they had chances to score another 6 goals from various players, but we stood strong and kept the score line 2-0 for the final whistle. The crowd in the Palace end was still exceptional and even though we lost you wouldn’t have realised it from the sound.

Regardless of the score I’m very proud of the team for even making it to the FA cup semi-final and giving us fans a great day out in Wembley! Obviously gutted we couldn't go the whole way but I thought it was a very good defensive display and in fairness this spread through the whole team, so every player should be proud of themselves. Chelsea were simply the better and more clinical team. Like I mentioned earlier the crowd was incredible, we were so loud from the first minute and didn’t stop till long after the final whistle, it was great to see most of the players acknowledging this after the game. Hopefully many more days like this in the near future (but hopefully with a better score outcomes). After the game we had to walk back to the car. There were so many fights both in and around the stadium, that’s one thing I don’t get about football fans how they would want to come to games with the pure aim to start trouble, disappointingly it was mainly Palace fans starting them when they should just have accepted the loss!

Match stats:

• Palace had a total of 33% possession, Chelsea had 67%

• Palace had a total of 6 shots with 2 on target.

• Chelsea had 12 shots with 4 on target.

Thank you for reading, if you attended I hope you had a great day!

Ellie Xx

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