If it wasn’t for Petr Cech, Chelsea wouldn’t have just left Wembley as the losing team but also as a humiliated one. All the talent in the world, mostly presented with the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, can’t make up for the shambles of a defensive midfield currently deployed at Chelsea, giving them less than the chance they deserve when they’re up against a quality side.
And Manchester City, despite the disappointing season, are a quality side. At least they’ve looked like one each time they’ve met Chelsea this season, because of the disparity in the middle of the pitch, allowing Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri to look like superstars. John Obi Mikel is the best Chelsea have to offer in the form of a defensive midfielder, while it doesn’t really matter if it’s Ramires, who started in the semifinal, or Frank Lampard, too obvious in his absence. Against the good sides, with strength up the middle, it isn’t enough.
Maybe it’s time to start using Oscar that way, before it’s too late. Brazil of recent years isn’t the best example of a functioning team, but Oscar doesn’t play so forward and so wide with the Selecao. He drops down to help the midfield, where his talents and lack of physicality are better utilized. Eden Hazard and Juan Mata are quicker with the ball and much more dangerous around the box, and by shifting Oscar backwards, which has rarely happened this season, Chelsea look a lot more like a balanced side that’s not so exposed each time they’re attacked through the middle.
Demba Ba got to score a memorable goal, hoping that he isn’t forgotten this summer when the big signings come landing at Stamford Bridge once again. Everyone keeps talking about strikers (Falcao and Cavani for example), but Chelsea could do with improvements in other areas before thinking about goal-scoring. Fernando Torres and Demba Ba might not give them the world’s most dangerous duo up front, but they should do well enough if Hazard and Mata weren’t feeling so exposed from behind.
In a clear attempt to not just rest players like Terry and Lampard but signal that their time at Stamford Bridge is almost over, Rafa Benitez may have hurt his chances of winning the FA Cup, a trophy he won with Liverpool in 2006. But when you don’t have a contract for next season and aren’t very likely to get one, you don’t really care about the consequences. Chelsea’s future is with Hazard, David Luiz and Mata, and with all due respect to Terry and Lampard, Chelsea haven’t looked much better with them on the pitch this season.