Thomas Tuchel expressed his delight with a "controlled and serious" performance that guided Chelsea into the FA Cup final.

Chelsea reached a third successive FA Cup final, matching the feat achieved by Arsenal between 2000-01 and 2002-03, with a 2-0 triumph over Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace at Wembley.

Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring in the 65th minute with his first goal in any competition since November 2020, before Mason Mount sealed semi-final success with 14 minutes remaining.

The 2021-22 campaign now marks Mount's new-best scoring season, with his 12th strike this term surpassing his 11-goal haul for Championship side Derby County in 2018-19.

Tuchel, who has progressed from each of the 11 semi-final ties in his managerial career, congratulated his players for their efforts amid a hectic schedule, with Chelsea having slipped out of the Champions League after going to extra-time against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

"It was not easy because we played three games in three different competitions," Tuchel told ITV Sport. 

"It is not always easy, very challenging physically, we are the team with the most minutes in Europe I think, it is also challenging mentally.

"I thought the performance was very controlled and very serious, we took care of their counter-attacks. It was hard, the opponent changed system twice, you cannot lose focus for a minute."

Tuchel also reserved special praise for Loftus-Cheek, who scored his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, when he netted in a Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"He [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] was very, very strong in matches against Southampton and Real Madrid, he would have deserved to start," said Tuchel.

"We knew Ruben would have a big impact off the bench. I am very happy.

"He hid his talent and potential for a long time in his career. He is capable of producing performances that everyone sees on the pitch. For him, it is step by step that he continues to grow in his confidence."

 

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool stand in the way of Chelsea in the final, and it will be the second time the same two sides have competed in the EFL Cup and FA Cup showpiece events in the same season, after Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday met in both competitions in 1992-93.

Tuchel, though, cannot wait to renew his battle with the quadruple-hunting Liverpool, who ran out penalty shoot-out victors in the EFL Cup in late February and defeated Premier League title rivals Manchester City in Saturday's semi-final.

"I am happy to be part of it again, I cannot be more excited and more proud because it is a huge competition. We will be ready," he added.

Chelsea secured their place in a third successive FA Cup final after second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount clinched the 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.

The Blues have made something of a habit of reaching the FA Cup showpiece in recent years, contesting four of the past five, and while this semi-final win was by means vintage, Thomas Tuchel's side looked comfortable once they found the breakthrough.

Neither side showed much inspiration in attack during a cagey opening 45 minutes and there were few signs of improvement initially after the interval.

But a couple of kind deflections helped substitute Loftus-Cheek break the deadlock just past the hour for his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, and Mount's finish soon after ensured the Blues will face Liverpool for the trophy.

It took 35 minutes for a dull first half to come to life as Edouard Mendy did brilliantly to save a goal-bound volley from his Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate down to his left.

Kai Havertz attempted to win a penalty with a dive at the other end a few moments later, but referee Anthony Taylor saw through his deception and brandished a yellow card.

Kouyate went close again early in the second half when a header flew agonisingly off target and Chelsea capitalised in the 65th minute.

Havertz's cutback was diverted into Loftus-Cheek's path and another touch off a Palace defender took the midfielder's powerful strike out of Jack Butland's reach.

Mount wrapped things up 14 minutes from time, tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner after good work from Timo Werner, with Romelu Lukaku's dreadful late miss proving irrelevant.

Romelu Lukaku should look at Timo Werner for inspiration if he plays any part in Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace on Sunday, according to Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.

Werner has endured a largely difficult time at Stamford Bridge since arriving from RB Leipzig in June 2020, but he has shone in the past week.

He followed up a brace in the 6-0 Premier League win over Southampton last weekend with another goal in the Champions League quarter-final second-leg win at Real Madrid in midweek.

Like Werner, Lukaku has had difficulties since joining the club from Inter ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

He has scored just five goals and registered zero assists in his 12 Premier League starts, while he has created only 16 opportunities and converted 17.2 per cent of his 29 shots, just 11 of which have been on target.

Lukaku's 12 goals in all competitions only marginally exceeds his expected goals (xG) of 11.8, however, showing he is at least scoring at a rate that reflects the quality of chances that have come his way.

But the fact his xG is not higher suggests a lack of cohesion between Lukaku and his team-mates.

The Belgium international has missed Chelsea's last two games through injury, although he returned to training this week and is expected to play some part in Sunday's last-four clash at Wembley.

 

Asked if the 28-year-old needs to emulate Werner if he is selected against Palace, Tuchel told a media conference: "For sure. He had a huge chance against Real Madrid [at home] and things can go so fast.

"Nobody knows what this goal would have done for us if he had taken his chance with the late header in the first leg.

"It is exactly what he needs to do. Wait, be patient, work hard and put the team first, be ready to help the team, because as a striker you can help within seconds.

"Especially for strikers, things can be turned around in minutes, in moments. Whole careers can be upside down and in any direction but always as a striker you can have a chance to put things into your favour, as a substitute or if you have the chance to perform from the beginning."

Chelsea have won each of their last nine fixtures with Palace, all coming in the Premier League.

In the club's history, they have enjoyed five separate instances of 10 or more successive wins against an opponent, most recently a run of 11 versus Brighton and Hove Albion between 1967 and 2019.

Thomas Tuchel has revealed he explained to Conor Gallagher in person why Chelsea could not allow the on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder to play in their FA Cup semi-final.

Chelsea meet Palace in the last four of the competition at Wembley on Sunday, but breakout star Gallagher will be merely a spectator.

The England international belongs to Chelsea but is yet to make a senior appearance for the club, instead establishing himself as a top Premier League midfielder for Palace this season.

Gallagher has scored eight goals and provided five assists in all competitions in 2021-22, including two assists in four FA Cup matches prior to the semis.

That sort of form shows why Chelsea could not accommodate Palace's request to allow him to play this weekend. The Blues have won both matches against Palace in his absence this season, extending a winning run in the fixture to nine games.

"I had the chance to speak to Conor and I could also see his frustration," Tuchel said ahead of the match. "We met some weeks ago, after the international break, by coincidence in a restaurant.

"We had a chat, and the subject came up. I apologised, because I know how competitive he is, and I like him a lot. I know his character very well, and it was a pleasure to have him here in pre-season.

"This is the way it is. We play to win the game. The rules were clear when we made the loan.

"I can totally understand Patrick Vieira and the disappointment of Conor, but these were the rules when we made the loan, and we don't want to suffer from our rules."

 

Chelsea must still take on an England international brought through their academy, however, with Marc Guehi a permanent Palace signing last year.

Guehi, like Gallagher, has impressed at Palace, while Tino Livramento has been one of Southampton's star performers this season, but Tuchel explained their sales could not be reassessed with hindsight.

"It's a decision we took together. We are happy about these decisions," he said. "We cannot go back and reflect, because at the point where we took the decision it was the right thing to do, given the circumstances.

"It's very individual decisions. For Tino Livramento, for example, we had a plan and we preferred a loan, but he saw his future to go, and the situation was then better to agree to the sale.

"For Marc, it is a fantastic development. It's very hard or maybe even impossible to say if we had kept him he would be better or worse or the same. Maybe he needed exactly that, maybe he needed a change of environment, maybe he needed a different club, maybe he needed a bigger role, more minutes to develop your full potential.

"It just tells you over and over again that if you trust younger players and if you have a role for them, they can on a very regular level match your expectations or even over-perform.

"It's nice to see there are so many Chelsea players out there in every league. We are very well aware of it, and it's also nice to play against them and see them develop."

Chelsea still have academy graduates in their first team, with Mason Mount leading the way in terms of goal involvements (25 – 11 goals, 14 assists) this term.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (31), Reece James (30), Callum Hudson-Odoi (28) and Trevoh Chalobah (26) have each made more than 25 appearances for the Blues in 2021-22.

"We will always use as many academy players as possible," Tuchel said.

"Like I said many times before, it makes the club very special and makes every team in the world very special if you have the mix between world-class players, between big personalities from abroad, from outside the club, with the academy boys.

"I think it's very important also with the academy boys to match the level, to realise the level of commitment, of professionalism of players who come from other clubs, who bring the best of their cultures.

"It's very, very important for our youngsters to accept that mix and accept that challenge. Then it can be very special. This is what makes teams special, that there are players from the academy."

Thomas Tuchel is relieved Chelsea have the opportunity to quickly get back on track in their FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace, for which Romelu Lukaku may be available.

A huge week for Chelsea has been a difficult one so far, as their outstanding performance away to Real Madrid in a Champions League quarter-final was not enough to advance.

Trailing 3-1 from the home leg, the defending European champions were heading through when Timo Werner put them three up, only for Madrid to respond with goals from Rodrygo in normal time and Karim Benzema in extra time.

With Chelsea relatively secure in third place in the Premier League, their main focus now is on the FA Cup.

The Blues at least came through the Madrid second leg unscathed, with Tuchel's only update before the Palace game on the potential return of record signing Lukaku.

"Romelu was back in training yesterday [Thursday]. Let's see if he has any reaction or not," Tuchel told a pre-match news conference. "Then everybody should be okay."

The Chelsea coach will be looking to preserve his fine semi-final record, having won 11 and drawn one of his 12 previous such matches.

And Tuchel believes Chelsea will benefit from being thrust straight into another big match – this their first FA Cup tie against London rivals Palace since 1975-76, with the two teams each winning two of the four prior meetings.

"I think we are all a bit in between," Tuchel said. "Confidence wise, I think it's a huge boost, but still it's a disappointment to go out of the Champions League in the quarter-final.

"It's not a big drama, not in this kind of way, but still it's a big disappointment, because we feel like we could be one of the four teams in the semi-final.

"It's a weird feeling, because we had a huge task to go to Madrid, needing to win with a minimum of two goals to make it to extra time. We were three goals ahead.

"In a knockout game in the Bernabeu, it's a fantastic performance and stays like this. But it tastes bitter, because we're out of the Champions League.

"In both legs, we did too many individual mistakes, too many mistakes that were punished by individual quality.

"It's still a little bit in between for me, but we bounced back from the two results and the two performances against Brentford and Madrid at home.

"We won both games after that and there's a big knockout game coming at Wembley, which is, in my opinion, a good thing. There's a huge reward coming with it, so it's not a normal game in the Premier League to collect points, but it's straight away another knockout match."

Chelsea have plenty of experience of matches of this magnitude, too. Having lost the EFL Cup final to Liverpool earlier this season, they are playing multiple games at Wembley in a sixth consecutive campaign, with this their 40th appearance at the national stadium when used as a neutral venue.

Indeed, only Arsenal and Manchester United (both 30) have more FA Cup semi-final appearances than Chelsea (26).

The Blues have lost their past two FA Cup London derbies, although both were to Arsenal. Their past six FA Cup defeats to teams from the capital were against Arsenal.

Manchester City and Liverpool produced a pulsating top-of-the-table clash on another enthralling day of Premier League action on Sunday.

The top two played out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium to ensure the title race remains delicately poised with seven games remaining, City's one-point lead intact for now.

Elsewhere, Brentford beat London rivals West Ham, while there were wins for Leicester City and Norwich City over Crystal Palace and Burnley respectively.

Stats Perform takes a look at some key Opta facts from the day's games.
 

Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool: Guardiola's men miss chance to pull clear of rivals

The hosts started at a breathless pace and went ahead early on thanks to Kevin De Bruyne's 11th Premier League goal of the season. The Belgium international has only once scored more in a single top-flight campaign (13 in 2019-20).

Diogo Jota pulled Liverpool level before Gabriel Jesus restored City's advantage, and both players maintained their records of never losing in a Premier League game when they have scored. Jota is unbeaten in 33 matches (W27 D6) and Jesus in 45 (W42 D3), with only James Milner (54 games) and Darius Vassell (46) scoring in more without losing in Premier League history.

Sadio Mane scored just 46 seconds into the second half to secure a point for the Reds. It was the first time they had scored in the opening minute of the second half in a league game since January 2019 (Mohamed Salah vs Crystal Palace) and the first time City had conceded in the 46th minute in a Premier League game since November 2004 vs Norwich City.

The result means Liverpool are now winless in their last five Premier League matches against City (D3 L2), their joint-longest run without a victory against them along with a five-game run between November 2011 and December 2013.

Brentford 2-0 West Ham: Hammers stung by Bees

This win means Brentford have recorded a league double over West Ham for only the second time, last doing so in 1953-54 when both sides were in the second tier.

Bryan Mbeumo opened the scoring and the forward has now found the net in both Premier League games against West Ham this season. He is only the second Brentford player ever to score both home and away against the Hammers in the same league campaign, after Jack Holliday in 1933-34.

Ivan Toney added a second to take his tally to eight goals from 32 shots in the Premier League in 2022, after netting just four times from 36 attempts prior to the new year. Indeed, only Son Heung-min (nine) has scored more top-flight goals since the turn of the new year than the Brentford striker.

West Ham, meanwhile, have lost seven of their last 11 away Premier League games (W2 D2), which is one more away defeat than they suffered last season.

The Hammers have suffered three consecutive away defeats for the first time since a seven-game run between December 2019 and June 2020.

Leicester City 2-1 Crystal Palace: Foxes too strong for Vieira's men

Leicester remain unbeaten in their last six Premier League games against Palace (W4 D2), having lost four on the bounce against the Eagles in the top-flight before this run.

Ademola Lookman got them on their way with his fifth league goal of the season, equalling his best tally in a domestic campaign for a side in Europe's big five leagues (also five in 2017-18 with RB Leipzig).

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall then doubled their advantage with a superb strike after being teed up by James Maddison.

England international Maddison, who has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Leicester player this season (eight goals, five assists), became just the fourth player to register 20-plus goals and 20-plus assists for the Foxes in the Premier League, after Muzzy Izzet, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.

Patrick Vieira's Palace got one back through Wilfried Zaha, who has scored more Premier League goals against Leicester than he has versus any other side in the competition (seven), yet they were unable to find an equaliser.

Norwich City 2-0 Burnley: Canaries boost survival hopes

Norwich injected life into their Premier League survival bid with a comfortable win over fellow strugglers Burnley.

Pierre Lees-Melou opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal for the Canaries in his 26th appearance in the competition, becoming the first French player to score for the club in the English top flight.

Teemu Pukki made sure of the three points with his 20th Premier League goal, moving him ahead of Mark Robins (19) as the club's third top scorer in the competition after Chris Sutton (33) and Grant Holt (23).

The result meant Dean Smith's side have gone unbeaten home and away against a Premier League opponent for just the second time this season (D1 W1).

Burnley, meanwhile, are winless in their last four Premier League games against teams starting the day bottom of the table (D1 L3).

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira bemoaned Chelsea's decision to not allow loanee Conor Gallagher to feature in the FA Cup semi-final, claiming the midfielder will be "the only one who will lose".

Gallagher moved on a season-long loan from Chelsea to Selhurst Park at the start of the season and the midfielder has starred for the Eagles, who made the last four of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Everton.

The 22-year-old's performances also earned him his England debut in November and have led to suggestions he could fill a midfield void for Thomas Tuchel's side next campaign with N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho not getting any younger.

But Chelsea have refused Palace's request for special dispensation to allow Gallagher to play against his parent club in the FA Cup on April 17, with FA rules preventing loanees from featuring against the side they are contracted to.

Vieira was left bemused by the decision as he insisted Gallagher would be the only player punished by the refusal.

"It's not the best rule because the only one who will lose is Conor," the Frenchman said.

"There's a semi-final, it's a really exciting game about how you will manage yourself and prepare yourself to play that game, then there's playing that kind of game and the importance of it.

"It's an experience the player is missing and I'm disappointed for him. He has played all the games so far and if there's somebody who deserves to be in the semi-final, it's him because of his performances, so I'm disappointed he won't be able to play.

"The decision for Chelsea to send him on loan is to play these kinds of games. We have as a group an opportunity to play an important game and that game would have given him more confidence and belief. We could lose but for him to have been on the field is what he needs to keep developing himself.

"Since he has been with us, he has been fantastic and for him not to have a chance to get involved in that game, it is something frustrating for his development.

"I feel for him because he wanted to play in that game –every player would want to play in that game."

Vieira also believes the impact of the FA Cup last-four draw has been clear to see on Gallagher in training.

"The next day in training he was affected by that," he continued. "He knew straight away that it was a game that he would not have the chance to get involved in. We feel for him.

"He put his head back into training straight away. It will be more difficult when we enter the week of the game.

"It will be challenging for him, looking at the team, preparing himself and him not getting involved. That will be challenging for him."

It's matchday 32. No midweek games and precious points to pick up in the run home.

It's that time of the year when the unconventional pick can define one's season. Who dares wins, in other words.

With that in mind, let Stats Perform lead you by the hand with Opta data as we pick four players who might just give you those precious extra points in the latest Premier League gameweek.

VICENTE GUAITA (Leicester City v Crystal Palace)

The last time Leicester were kept scoreless at home by Crystal Palace in the Premier League was in December 2017, when Claude Puel was still manager of the Foxes.

In 2022, however, only Alisson and Ederson have kept more clean sheets than Vicente Guaita in the Premiership, with Guaita's four coming in his last five appearances.

Of the seven highest rankings in the Premier League for clean sheets in the new year, Guaita also has the third-highest percentage of shots saved at 75.86 per cent.

REECE JAMES (Southampton v Chelsea)

Despite the nature of their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, against Southampton this weekend, it is almost a certainty that Chelsea will have the bulk of possession.

As a consequence of how Thomas Tuchel's side plays, Chelsea's wingbacks are very prominent in and around the penalty area.

Among Premier League defenders this season, no player has scored more goals than Reece James this season, while Antonio Rudiger is also second.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Brentford v West Ham)

Needing to back up from Thursday's tussle in the Europa League against Lyon, West Ham could be vulnerable.

Brentford's Christian Eriksen has either scored or assisted in his last two Premier League games for the Bees, while the Dane last did so in three consecutive Premier League appearances in April 2019. 

In three Premier League starts for Brentford this season, they have won all three games, and Eriksen has completed the most passes (111) in those games, played the most passes into the penalty area (26) and created the most chances (five).

HARRY KANE (Aston Villa v Tottenham)

Tottenham are starting to find their rhythm under Antonio Conte, even despite March's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United, and Harry Kane remains as pivotal as ever.

No player in the Premier League has contributed to more goals in 2022 than Kane, with eight goals and five assists over that period.

Kane has also been involved in a goal in each of his last six Premier League appearances, and only between July and November 2020 (eight games) has he been on a longer streak.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has said that Kieran Tierney's knee injury "does not look good", with the defender set to see a specialist, while Thomas Partey's fitness is also a concern.

Tierney played twice for Scotland across the international break, but did not feature for the Gunners as they slumped to a 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Following the defeat at Selhurst Park, Arteta confirmed that the left-back had felt a problem that will be further assessed in the week, though the initial prognosis is not positive.

"He came back from international duty and felt something wrong in his knee," Arteta told BBC Sport.

"There is some damage there. We will hopefully know more on Tuesday but it's not looking good.

"He is seeing the specialist on Tuesday and we will know more about the extent of the injury but the feeling that he had wasn't really positive and what the scan showed either. We have to wait and see what happens."

Arsenal potentially lost another key player to injury as they head into the run-in, with Partey going off with an apparent hamstring injury.

"I don't know but he felt something in the same area that he got injured previously so that's a big concern," Arteta told his post-match news conference.

Arsenal's defeat leaves them in fifth on goal difference, though they do have a game in hand on fourth-placed Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta acknowledged Arsenal have to accept criticism and apologise after they were thumped 3-0 by Crystal Palace in a demoralising London derby defeat.

Arsenal saw their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four damaged on Monday as their run of five straight top-flight away wins ended in emphatic fashion.

Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew had Palace two goals up inside 24 minutes and a second-half penalty from Wilfried Zaha ended any hopes of a Gunners comeback.

The defeat leaves Arsenal fifth in the table, behind rivals Tottenham on goal difference, though they still do have a game in hand.

"From the beginning we were not at the races," Arsenal boss Arteta said to Sky Sports.

"When you come here you have to compete. You have to win duels and second balls and be aggressive – we were none of those.

"On top of that we were really poor on the ball. We were really inconsistent on the ball and that is unacceptable.

"It is time to accept the criticism, put your hand up and apologise because this performance was not good enough for this club and then react. 

"Congratulations to Palace because they deserved to win for the game they played. They always play like this.

"We are humble enough to accept the criticism. You don't feel sorry for yourself because we lost players and a football match.

"We made it impossible for ourselves with the way we competed. You have to be physical and run and then you earn the right to play. 

"We were poor, especially in the first half. I apologise to our supporters. We didn't have the presence or the composure to dominate the situation so that is what I'm most annoyed with."

Arsenal had 12 shots compared to Palace's six, yet the hosts got five of their attempts on target with the Gunners only testing Vicente Guaita three times.

Arteta added: "When we had the big chances we didn't score to give ourselves the best chance to get back in the game. 

"We tried in the second half, we had three or four big chances but the only half chance they had they got a penalty.

"First of all we need to put our hands up and get the criticism we deserve. Then we accept it, look ourselves in the mirror and look to the next game.

"This was not good enough. Some days you are not there and you are late all the time. They got on top of it and had a good atmosphere and we could not get out.

"We have to face the challenge and the opportunity is in our hands. We have to be honest with ourselves and support each other."

The loss was the first time Arsenal had been beaten by three or more goals in a Premier League London derby since suffering a defeat by the same scoreline to Palace in 2017, while the Eagles have now scored seven goals across their last two games in all competitions without conceding in return.

Arsenal have won just one of their last eight Premier League clashes with Palace (D5 L2), after winning nine of the 11 before that (D1 L1).

Arteta's side will look to bounce back when they host Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Arsenal's top-four hopes were dented by a 3-0 defeat to an impressive Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday. 

The Gunners were unable to reclaim their spot in the Premier League top four having been leapfrogged by arch-rivals Tottenham, who defeated Newcastle United 5-1 on Sunday. 

They struggled to cope with the intensity of Palace – coached by former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira – and shipped goals to Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew in quick succession in the first half. 

After failing to take the chances that came their way, Arsenal were punished by a 74th-minute spot-kick from Wilfried Zaha that ended their hopes of mounting a late comeback. 

Arsenal had the lion's share of possession in the opening quarter of an hour but they fell behind when Mateta nodded Joachim Andersen's cushioned header into the back of the net. 

Palace doubled their lead eight minutes later when Gabriel Magalhaes failed to cut out Andersen's throughball to Ayew, who curled a fine finish into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box. 

Arteta replaced Nuno Tavares with Gabriel Martinelli at half-time and shifted Granit Xhaka to left-back but the Gunners still looked ponderous when attacking. 

They were found wanting when chances did come their way too. Emile Smith Rowe produced a tame effort when presented with a decent opportunity and in the 67th minute Martin Odegaard failed to hit the target from 12 yards out. 

Those misses proved costly when, after a long delay, referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot following Odegaard's tackle on Zaha in the box and the Ivory Coast winger dispatched the resulting penalty. 

Eddie Nketiah struck the upright with a swirling attempt in the closing stages but Palace continued to frustrate the Gunners until the final whistle.
 

What does it mean? Gunners' grip weakens 

Arsenal saw a run of five straight away wins in the Premier League come to an end in south London. 

They sit below Spurs on goal difference but can take solace in the fact they still have a game in hand.

Palace, meanwhile, moved up to ninth and are now unbeaten in seven straight games in all competitions – a run that has also seen them reach the FA Cup semi-finals. 

Zaha shines 

The relentless running of Zaha made Palace a significant threat on the break but also played a part in them keeping a clean sheet. His efforts were rewarded with a goal from the 18th penalty he has won in his Premier League career – only Raheem Sterling (23) and Jamie Vardy (21) have won more. 

Nuno no good 

After failing to even challenge Andersen on the assist for the opening goal, Tavares did not track the run of Ayew on the second. He was deservedly hooked by Arteta at half-time. 

What's next? 

Arsenal entertain Brighton and Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, while Palace travel to Leicester City the following day. 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is not willing to be drawn into mind games with Tottenham counterpart Antonio Conte and is instead focused on getting the most out of his players.

Conte last week stated that Spurs would require "a miracle" to finish fourth place in the Premier League.

Tottenham increased the pressure on Arsenal by hammering Newcastle United 5-1 on Sunday to leapfrog their north London rivals into the final Champions League qualification spot.

However, the Gunners are only behind Tottenham on goal difference and have two games in hand, the first of those coming away at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Conte's comments were perceived as being psychological tactics ahead of a potentially tense run-in that will see the fierce rivals do battle in a rescheduled game.

But Arteta, who was named Manager of the Month for March, is only interested in deploying such tactics internally.

"I don't know if we are favourites [for the top four]," Arteta said. "That is a question for [Conte]. 

"But what we want to do is very clear and the perception of what people think is not going to change it."

When asked if he is a manager who wants to engage in mind games, Arteta replied: "I do it more with my players, I think.

"I do it more with the players, if I have to, to get what I want from them. I can't tell you how I do it because they will know what they are doing and that is the whole point!"

Arsenal have won six of their past seven games ahead of their trip to Palace, who are managed by Gunners midfield legend Patrick Vieira.

Arteta's side have won each of their past five away top-flight matches, which is their best run since a streak of eight in a row between March and September 2013.

That is a remarkable turnaround following their worst start to a Premier League campaign when losing their first three games, and Arteta is confident his young squad can maintain their form.

"There is nothing different; they have already been dealing with [the pressure] for weeks," he said. 

"This is a conversation we have had now for over six to eight weeks, so they have already been through that and have responded really, really well.

"There is nothing new because they have already been doing it and capable of doing it."

Arsenal have lost just one of their past 16 away league games against Palace (W8 D7), though that defeat did come in a Monday game back in April 2017 (3-0).

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta remains uninterested by the other teams in the Premier League's top-four race, insisting it is all in the Gunners' hands.

Arteta's side have lost just one of eight top-flight games since a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the start of 2022, surging up the table to fourth in the league.

Arsenal are three points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game more, as they push for Champions League qualification, with their next fixture coming away at Crystal Palace on Monday.

That means Spurs, Manchester United and West Ham will have all played before the Gunners are in action at Selhurst Park, but Arteta does not see the late game as an advantage over his competitors.

"We're going to focus on what we can do. That's the only thing we can control," he told reporters at Thursday's pre-match news conference. 

"Through the TV we can suffer and we can enjoy and there's not much else we can do. What we have to do is win the football matches that we need to achieve what we want and that's all in our hands."

Aaron Ramsdale missed the 1-0 win at Aston Villa last time out, with Bukayo Saka scoring the winner before the teenager withdrew from international duty with England due to COVID-19.

Arteta confirmed Saka has returned to training, but the clash with Patrick Vieira's Palace may come too soon for Ramsdale, who suffered a muscle injury in a 2-0 loss to Liverpool earlier in the month.

"Bukayo is feeling good," he added. "He's training today hopefully if he's still feeling as he was yesterday. Aaron, it's a doubt. He's still feeling not great, he hasn't trained yet so we don't know what he'll be able to do on Monday.

"He wanted to play against Villa but it was a significant injury and he had to take his time and the physios are doing everything they can. We will see more in the next few days when he starts to do real training."

Meanwhile, Takehiro Tomiyasu nears a return from a calf injury that has kept him on the sidelines since early January.

"I think it will be close. He's been training more and more. He has the boys back now, so he will be joining some sessions this week, and let's see how it is," the Spaniard said of Tomiyasu.

The Premier League also announced the reintroduction of five substitutes from the start of next season, a decision that Arteta is glad to see introduced.

"I'm glad that in the end, we have unified the criteria with the whole of Europe," he said on the rule change. "It's now how we do it and how we manage it. There will be some changes because that gives you different opportunities and tactically the chance to make some changes.

"I think the most important thing is that you manage the load of the players much better. Make sure we don't slow the game down too much and I think it's good. It gives the players opportunities to be on the pitch, which is what they want to do.

"The options you are given to change the game, to refresh the game, to change in many different positions which is something you are always restricted to do, and probably the timing of the subs because when you have three the last sub is always in the back of your mind and if you make it too early you can pay the consequences. So that gives you more flexibility."

Gareth Southgate understands why Wilfried Zaha chose to switch his international allegiance to Ivory Coast, with the England manager unsure of what the winger's role might have been with the Three Lions.

Zaha made two friendly appearances for England back in 2012 and 2013, but he was not picked by Southgate when he took over in 2016, despite impressing after his return to Crystal Palace.

The forward eventually elected to play for Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Zaha has gone on to play in 11 of Ivory Coast's 12 matches across the past three Africa Cup of Nations, scoring twice in the 2019 edition, although he has only turned out twice in World Cup qualifiers. Ivory Coast failed to advance to Qatar 2022.

The 29-year-old is in fine form, having scored 10 goals across all competitions for Patrick Vieira's Palace side this season – just one shy of matching his best total for the club, set last season – and will now get the chance to go up against England when the Three Lions host Ivory Coast at Wembley on Tuesday.

"He's a talent," Southgate told reporters when asked about Zaha. "He's a good player playing at a high level every week.

"He felt the Ivory Coast was the route to go and I totally understood that. It's hard to say what his role might have been with us.

"Raheem [Sterling] has been a key part of our team for a long period, Jesse Lingard had done a fabulous job and, at the start, we had Adam Lallana, who was our player of the year for the first 18 months or so."

 

Southgate coached Zaha while he was in charge of England Under-21s and conceded it was a hard time for the then Manchester United winger.

"When we had him with the Under-21s he was in the middle of a very difficult spell both with Manchester United and then on loan with Cardiff," said Southgate, who explained that he never doubted Zaha's commitment or desire to play.

"I remember being asked at the time – and we were asked about a few different cases – and I said players have to have the desire to play for England.

"That was slightly tweaked a bit, I would say, so that created a little bit of an atmosphere with Wilf and [Palace chairman] Steve Parish for a while.

"That wasn't an insinuation on Wilf – you couldn't have a more passionate player, as anyone who follows Crystal Palace knows."

The Football Association insists it intends to work with the UK government to ensure both FA Cup semi-finals have sell-out crowds.

Questions have been raised whether Chelsea fans will be able to attend the game against Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium with the club still working under government-imposed sanctions, preventing them from making a profit by selling match tickets.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and had his assets frozen, after he announced his intentions to sell the Premier League club earlier in March.

A statement released on Monday by the FA confirmed its desire to discuss the matter with the government to potentially allow Blues fans to attend the game, scheduled to take place on April 16 or 17.

"We hope to have sell-out crowds at both of our Emirates FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley Stadium," the statement read.

"This includes tickets for Chelsea supporters for their match against Crystal Palace, and we are working with the government on a method to achieve this whilst respecting the sanctions that are currently in place on Chelsea."

Chelsea later stated their gratitude for the FA's efforts in the matter, writing on Twitter: "We are grateful for the FA's continuing efforts to help us find a solution." 

The other semi-final will see Manchester City face Liverpool, with uncertainty around the arrangements for that game also after it emerged that there are currently no scheduled trains between Manchester or Liverpool and London for that weekend.

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