CRAIG HOPE: Chelsea’s winning machine leaves Football Association with headaches over FA Cup semi-final clash against Crystal Palace… with Blues still uncertain over ticket allocation at Wembley
- Chelsea’s winning streak leaves FA with headaches over semi-final clash
- Blues scheduled to play against Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium in April
- There remains uncertainty over Chelsea’s available ticket allocation for game
- Blues currently banned from selling tickets after Roman Abramovich’s sanction
With each Chelsea victory — and they do not look like stopping — comes an additional headache for the authorities.
What now do the FA deem appropriate for the club’s allocation of tickets for the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley? They will not, you suspect, leave the stadium half empty. Maybe opponents Crystal Palace could be given extra seats, or grassroots clubs invited to attend.
Right now, the only thing certain when it comes to Chelsea is uncertainty. Neither the FA nor the club had the answer on Sunday. Chelsea — unable to sell match tickets under the terms of their operating licence — have suggested giving them to supporters for free, and the Government will listen.
Chelsea’s winning ways leaves the FA with a decision to make over semi-final ticket allocation
Thomas Tuchel’s side progressed to final four of the FA cup after 2-0 win over Middlesbrough
Whatever the solution, it is a problem likely to repeat itself if the performance of Thomas Tuchel’s side is anything to go by.
Middlesbrough discovered that not all Premier League teams are as poor as Manchester United and Tottenham, the duo they beat in previous rounds. There was no chance of another upset here. Indeed, it was Goliath throwing the stones.
FA Cup bully boy Romelu Lukaku tapped in on 15 minutes to make it three domestic goals for the calendar year, his others coming against Chesterfield and Luton.
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring as Chelsea cruised to a comfortable win at the Riverside
You could say it demonstrates the depth of the squad assembled under Roman Abramovich’s ownership that a £97.5million club-record signing is reserved for such assignments. Or you could argue that Tuchel only trusts Lukaku against EFL opposition.
But there is no doubting his faith in others, such as the outstanding scorer of the second Hakim Ziyech, who slammed into the bottom corner from 25 yards, or the creator of both goals, Mason Mount.
At the other end, centre back Thiago Silva, at 37, is approaching an age where he may well swap football boots for slippers. It looked like he had made that change already given the comfort with which he strolled through this game.
Mason Mount celebrates with Tuchel after providing both assists in Chelsea’s win
The Blues have won all four games since Abramovich was sanctioned and put the club up for sale. Since early December, only Manchester City have beaten them in regular time. The other loss was on penalties in the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool.
Tuchel joked that, for all his side are on a good run, City and Liverpool have been doing the same for three years. And that the Premier League title was beyond them this season. But the FA Cup and Champions League are most certainly not.
It is hoped the club’s sale will be resolved by the time the major finals come around, but there are no guarantees. There is fresh concern that Abramovich could refuse to sell to anyone from a country that has sanctioned Russian oligarchs. The only guarantee, you feel, is that Tuchel’s side will continue to win. For them, their fans being in attendance or not does not seem to be an issue. If only the same could be said for the game’s governing bodies.