David de Gea bemoaned an abject Manchester United season as he insisted his Red Devils' team-mates who are not committed "do not have to stay".

Ralf Rangnick has failed to transform United's fortunes following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's departure in November, ending his tenure with the lowest win rate of any manager in the club's Premier League history (41.7 per cent – 10 wins from 24 games).

Erik ten Hag watched on as United fell to a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, albeit they will be playing in the Europa League next season after West Ham failed to leapfrog them on the final day.

The incoming Ten Hag will have a sizeable rebuilding task at hand after United failed to end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero in 2021-22) for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign (minus-one).

United also concluded their campaign with a record-low Premier League points haul (58), and De Gea vented his frustrations after the game at Selhurst Park.

"I want to forget this season and be 100 per cent ready for the next season and be positive. The best thing that happened today is the season has finished," De Gea told BBC Sport.

"It has been horrible, a very bad season in all ways, it has been very tough. It is time to rest and prepare your minds for next season.

"Ones who want to stay, stay at the club. Ones that don't want to stay, go out. You don't have to stay here.

"The new manager and staff are already looking for new players. Hopefully, they bring good ones with good character."

Unwanted Premier League-era records continued to tumble for United, who have lost six consecutive away league matches for the first time since March 1981, and De Gea is excited for new beginnings under Ten Hag next term.

"I cannot wait. I am excited for the next season, new manager, new players," he added.

"Hopefully we will improve and put Manchester United in a better position. We need to trust in the future."

Manchester United will be playing Europa League football next season despite Wilfried Zaha scoring in a 1-0 win for Crystal Palace over the Red Devils in the Premier League.

Incoming United boss Erik ten Hag was in attendance at Selhurst Park as Zaha punished a languid first-half showing by Ralf Rangnick's side to put Palace in front.

United, without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, could not find a breakthrough in the second half as they fell to a sixth straight away league defeat.

However, West Ham were defeated by Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, which kept United in sixth despite the Red Devils finishing the term with a club record-low Premier League points tally.

Edinson Cavani, playing in his final game for United, almost wrongfooted Vicente Guaita with a volley after 14 minutes, but the Spaniard readjusted to parry away.

David de Gea showed quick reflexes to thwart low drives from Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp, but the United goalkeeper had no response shortly after when the Ivory Coast international drilled into the bottom-left corner.

Bruno Fernandes tamely curled a free-kick into Guaita's hands after the interval, while Conor Gallagher dragged a presentable opportunity wide at the other end.

Anthony Elanga sliced wide from Juan Mata's cutback as United searched for a late equaliser, although a belated offside flag against the Spaniard spared the Sweden international's blushes.

United continued pressing forward but Palace held firm for a fifth consecutive top-flight home clean sheet for just the second time in history.

Juan Mata has called for a reset at Manchester United as he suggested any player who does not meet the standards should not be at Old Trafford.

United have suffered another dismal season and, regardless of the result in their final game at Crystal Palace on Sunday, will finish the campaign with their lowest points tally in Premier League history.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismissed in late November before the short-term appointment of Ralf Rangnick, who will leave with the lowest win rate of any United manager in Premier League history (currently 43.5 per cent – 10 wins from 23 games).

Erik ten Hag is the next man tasked with transforming United's fortunes, and midfielder Mata urged improvements from his side next term as questions persist over the players' commitment and attitude.

"It's clear that on the pitch, we have made many mistakes," Mata told The Athletic. "We could have also dealt better with certain situations that were happening in the club, managers changing, negative things.

"At the end of the day, we let that maybe affect too much the energy of Carrington.

"Certain standards were not met. Whether that's attitude, level of training, off the pitch, which doesn't include players, we haven't been good enough. So that's where we could learn.

"Also, certain things were out of our control, which we shouldn't let affect us. You feel that way when you see certain things are not good enough. But we shouldn't have let things happen.

"Many circumstances can affect certain behaviours. If you don't have a solid base, when bad things come, it is difficult to stay all together.

"We need a reset in the culture of the club. That's how I feel. The standards, what it means to represent this club to any player, what entitles you to play for Manchester United, what is expected on the pitch and off the pitch.

"Many things that need to be clear – this is Manchester United and anyone who doesn't meet those standards is not up to the task and should not be here. That's as clear as I can be."

United require victory over Palace to guarantee they do not drop to seventh, which would mark their joint-worst finish in the Premier League (alongside the 2013-14 season) and see them play Europa Conference League football next term.

Cristiano Ronaldo will look to add to his 18 Premier League goals this season, only netting more in a single campaign in 2007-08 (31), while goalkeeper David de Gea will aim to end a positive season on a personal level on a high note.

De Gea implored United to perform for the fans when they visit Palace, who have never won in 12 Premier League home games against the Red Devils (D4 L8), which is the most one team has faced another at home without ever winning in the competition.

"We know [this season has] been difficult," he told MUTV. "But at least just for [the fans] and for our pride [we will] try to win the game.

"[I want to] at least give a win for the fans because they have been absolutely amazing for the whole season and it's great to have them at every single game.

"It will always have been a tough season for us, but I am very proud of my season, to be honest.

"I worked really hard in the summer to be here and be ready to play and show my qualities for the team. I think I did very well. I played very consistent this season and helped the team a lot."

The Football Association (FA) has condemned pitch-invading fans after a number of high-profile incidents of violence near the end of the English league season.

Earlier on Friday, Merseyside Police announced they had launched an investigation into an altercation between Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira and a fan, after Everton supporters flooded onto the Goodison Park pitch to celebrate the Toffees securing Premier League safety with a 3-2 comeback victory.

Widely circulated footage appeared to show Vieira kicking out at the fan after being goaded, while this week also saw a Nottingham Forest supporter jailed and given a stadium ban after attacking Sheffield United player Billy Sharp following a Championship play-off semi-final at the City Ground.

Elsewhere, Swindon Town players were allegedly physically and verbally abused during a pitch invasion at Port Vale, while a Northampton Town fan appeared to shove a Mansfield Town player during League Two's other play-off semi-final tie.

English football's governing body has now moved to condemn the scenes and confirmed it is investigating each of the pitch invasions to have taken place over recent days.

"We are very concerned about the rise in anti-social behaviour from fans as we reach the end of the season," a statement from the FA began.

"Football stadiums should always be a safe and enjoyable space for everyone, and these incidents are completely unacceptable and have no place in our game.

"It is illegal to enter the pitch area in any stadium and these actions are putting players, fans and people who run the game at great risk. This simply cannot continue, and we can confirm that we are investigating all of the incidences. 

"Clubs play a vital role in addressing this issue and they need to prevent pitch invasions from occurring, as well as taking their own action against those that break the rules and the law.

"The FA will be seeking to do all that it can to work with clubs as well as addressing the issues from a disciplinary perspective. We are also reviewing our regulations to help stamp this behaviour out and to ensure the safety of everyone inside a stadium."

Ralf Rangnick has revealed he will meet with incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag over the weekend as he looks to help the Red Devils rebuild after a frustrating campaign.

Rangnick will take charge of his final game at the United helm at Crystal Palace on Sunday, with the Old Trafford outfit only able to finish as high as sixth at the end of a poor Premier League season, while their major trophy drought will now stretch to five years.

Ten Hag will reportedly attend United's match at Selhurst Park, where the Red Devils need to win to guarantee they will not drop to seventh in the final standings, which would mark their joint-worst finish in the Premier League (alongside the 2013-14 season) and see them play Europa Conference League football next term.

Overseeing his final pre-match media conference as United's interim boss before taking on a consultancy role with the club, Rangnick revealed he has already been in contact with Ten Hag and will soon meet him in person to begin the process of overhauling the squad.

The former RB Leipzig director of football also reiterated his belief that United can return to the top of the English game within "two or three" transfer windows if they get their recruitment right.

"We've been in contact via WhatsApp, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to speak and meet in person either over the weekend or by Monday morning at the latest," Rangnick said.

"I'm looking forward to speaking with him in person and getting to know him.

"I still strongly believe that there is a core of players who are top, who are good enough to play for this club, and hopefully most of those players will still be here next season.

"As I said earlier on, if the board, Erik, the scouting department – and I will help them with all the issues that I can – If we can bring in the right mentality of players, the right quality of players, I'm positive that we will be able to bring this club, not only back on track but back to the top.

"This is what it's all about in the next couple of weeks, maybe it will not happen in one transfer window, but I'm very positive it can happen in the next two or three windows."

Rangnick was also asked whether he and Ten Hag had discussed the specifics of the German's new role at Old Trafford, and insisted his experience of recruiting young players could be key in the future.

"We spoke about that in detail, about all the different areas where I could be of help," he added. "It's not that difficult to know in which areas this could be.

"We showed in the last 15 years with [Rangnick's former clubs] Hoffenheim and with [RB] Salzburg and Leipzig, that even with clubs not as prominent as Manchester United, it's possible to identify and develop [young players], that this is possible.

"This is what is most important: that the club finds players for whom it is the next logical step in their career, to develop their sporting career. If that happens, I'm more than positive and I can also hopefully encourage our fans that we will bring Manchester United back to the top."

Meanwhile, Rangnick looked back upon his underwhelming six-month tenure at Old Trafford, claiming his side were on the right track until they fell to a 2-1 aggregate Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid in March.

Rangnick did, however, suggest a lack of team spirit and togetherness had plagued United since then, calling that his "biggest disappointment."

"I think we have to see it in different periods of time," he added. "I think that until we dropped out against Atletico – and this was a vital blow – I think since then we've lost confidence and energy in the team.

"Until then, I think we stabilised the team defensively, compared perhaps to the team that shipped four goals against Watford away [in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's final game in charge]. I think until that Atletico game, we were much more stable defensively, we also had a few games where we scored goals and played well.

"But what didn't happen was that this development happened in a sustainable way, so we couldn't keep that on a regular level, either we had problems scoring goals or to prevent goals being scored against us.

"I think since the Atletico game, we just didn't find our shape, our form, again. This has got to do with confidence, a little bit also with mentality, team spirit, togetherness, and we just fell short in those areas.

"This is, for me, the biggest disappointment, that we didn't manage to develop a certain team spirit that helped us even in the difficult moments of the games and the league, this happens also to other teams… this is, for me, the biggest issue in hindsight."

An altercation involving Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira on the Goodison Park pitch is being investigated by Merseyside police.

The incident took place in the aftermath of Everton's 3-2 comeback win over Palace in the Premier League on Thursday.

Widely circulated social media footage appeared to show Vieira kicking out at a supporter after being goaded, as Everton fans flooded onto the playing surface after Frank Lampard's team secured their top-flight status.

While Vieira refused to comment on the incident at his post-match news conference, the police have now announced an investigation, while reports suggest the Football Association has launched its own probe.

"Merseyside Police is investigating an altercation on the pitch at Goodison Park following the Everton v Crystal Palace match," read a statement released on Friday. 

"We are working with Everton FC to gather all available CCTV footage and are speaking to witnesses. No formal complaint has been received and enquiries into the incident are ongoing."

Meanwhile, a separate statement released by the force confirmed three men had been arrested for entering – or attempting to enter – Goodison Park with pyrotechnics on Thursday, while another was arrested for a breach of the police but later de-arrested.

The unsavoury scenes follow similar incidents being witnessed at several Football League play-off matches recently – a fan was jailed for assaulting Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp after the team's defeat at Nottingham Forest earlier this week, while pitch invasions have also occurred at Huddersfield Town, Northampton Town, and Port Vale in recent days.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation with an Everton fan following his team's 3-2 defeat at Goodison Park on Thursday.

Palace threw away a 2-0 half-time lead in the second half, and the dramatic victory for the Toffees ensured their Premier League status for another season.

The delirious home fans descended onto the pitch after the final whistle to celebrate, but one fan approached Vieira and appeared to taunt him.

The former Arsenal midfielder initially ignored the man, before turning to confront him, seeming to kick out before being ushered away by other Everton supporters.

Vieira refused to speak about the incident in his post-match media conference, though his opposite number Frank Lampard said he "felt" for the Frenchman being put in that situation.

"I feel for Patrick," the Everton boss said at his own media conference. "I didn't get him at the end. I would have said, 'come in with us' – although he might not have wanted that.

"Of course he ran 80 yards across the pitch and it's not easy."

This was not the first unsavoury incident to take place in English football in the last week involving pitch invasions, with a Nottingham Forest fan being arrested and later jailed for assaulting Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp following Forest's penalty shoot-out win in the Championship playoff semi-finals on Tuesday.

There were further concerns raised about fans endangering players during pitch invasions after both League Two playoff games involving Mansfield Town and Northampton Town on Wednesday, and Swindon Town and Port Vale on Thursday.

On the fans coming onto the pitch, Lampard added: "It was pure elation of fans who have come on the pitch after avoiding relegation.

"If it is done in the right way let them stay on the pitch, let them have their moment. As long as they behave, no problem."

Frank Lampard hailed Everton's dramatic 3-2 win against Crystal Palace as "one of the greatest moments of my footballing life" after battling back from two goals down to clinch Premier League safety.

Everton entered Thursday's contest at Goodison Park knowing that victory would guarantee them a 69th consecutive campaign of English top-flight football – a record only Arsenal (97 from next season) can better – but trailed to goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew before half-time.

However, for the first time in their Premier League history, at what was the 75th attempt, the Toffees recovered from a two-goal deficit at the midway point of a game to collect all three points thanks to goals from Michael Keane, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Lampard's side can no longer be caught by Leeds United and Burnley in the final relegation spot with one fixture – away at top-four chasing Arsenal on Sunday – remaining.

And while Chelsea great Lampard may have been more accustomed to winning major trophies across his playing days, the Everton boss ranks the victory over Palace as a career highlight.

"It is one of the greatest moments of my footballing life and career," he told BBC Sport. "I have been very fortunate to have amazing times, especially at Chelsea as a player and a coach. 

"But when you feel the feelings and desperation of what relegation brings to the table, it is different. You need to dig in. You lose games, you fight to do something and then you lose another game. People think you should fly up the table and it is never that way. 

"Coming in here three and a half months ago with my amazing staff, positive people who work so hard, and trying to affect things and getting a reaction from the players, from the fans and feeling unity when it looked split. This club is special and I am proud to be manager of Everton on this night."

Everton have now gained 15 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season – only Liverpool (17) have recovered more – with 38 per cent of their points in 2021-22 coming in games in which they have fallen behind.

Lampard, who took over from Rafael Benitez at the end of January, celebrated the latest comeback triumph wildly with Everton fans, his backroom staff members and the club board.

"I thought I might cry at full-time; I thought I might jump out of my body," he said. "Nobody can question the celebrations at the end. It is easy to say 'but you haven't won anything'. You know what, come and work at this club for a few months and see the difficulties and what it means to people to stay in this league. 

"See us 2-0 down at half-time, playing poorly, ridiculous second goal and then see the character they showed. See the fans on the pitch in good heart and spirit. They have pulled us over the line, they have been more than a 12th man. But the players also deserve huge credit. An amazing night."

He added: "I'm overwhelmed and I've got so much thanks for people because there's a lot of people who have worked so hard for that, to get over the line today. Namely the players, the fans, the board, my staff. Huge night for Everton and now we want to take that forward."

Dele Alli, who has struggled since arriving from Tottenham in the January window, played a huge part in the turnaround after being introduced at the interval.

"Dele was brilliant when he came on. He changed the game individually," Lampard said. "We had already changed the system but it was to give a little bit of information. 

"It was nothing to do with a system change to change the game, it was always going to be the players, their character and desire to engage the crowd and make something happen.

"I can't take too much credit. I didn't come up with some new magical tactics. We went direct, but no problem in this position. But we relied on the players."

Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-min have joined Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold in being nominated for the Premier League's Player of the Season award.

De Bruyne, who won the award in 2019-20 despite Manchester City missing out on the title to Liverpool that season, is enjoying his best goalscoring campaign for the club.

He netted four goals in a 5-1 thrashing of Wolves on Wednesday, taking him to 19 in all competitions.

Salah is the only other past winner to be up for the award, having scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists (both league-high tallies) in another outstanding campaign as Liverpool battle City for the title.

Fellow Reds star Alexander-Arnold is also on the shortlist after racking up 12 assists in 31 appearances, as is Tottenham forward Son, who scored his 21st league goal of the campaign in Spurs' 3-0 win over Arsenal on Thursday.

Despite hitting 18 and 15 league goals respectively this season, Manchester United and Spurs strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane are among the highest-profile players to miss out being nominated.

The other players on the eight-man shortlist are City defender Joao Cancelo, Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse, and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

Bowen is one of just three Premier League players to record double figures for goals and assists this season (both 10, along with Salah and Chelsea's Mason Mount).

Meanwhile, both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are in contention to be named Manager of the Season at the end of another enthralling title race between their teams.

Guardiola has already won the award on three occasions (in 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2020-21), the same amount as Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. Only Alex Ferguson, with 11, has won it more often.

Klopp won the award when he led Liverpool to their first Premier League title in 2019-20, while the other three nominees all manage sides currently in the bottom half of the table.

Brentford's Thomas Frank is among them after leading the Bees to safety in their first top-flight season since 1946-47, as is Patrick Viera after an impressive first campaign with Crystal Palace.

Newcastle United's Eddie Howe is the final boss on the five-man shortlist, after the Magpies became the first side to go winless through their first 14 games in a Premier League campaign and avoid relegation (three had done so and gone down - Swindon Town in 1993-94, QPR in 2012-13, and Sheffield United in 2020-21).

Public votes will contribute towards deciding the winner of each award, with Premier League club captains also getting a vote on the players' award and a "panel of football experts" helping to choose the winning manager.

Barcelona are reportedly open to "big-money" offers for Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong, who has 40 caps for the Netherlands, arrived at Barcelona from Ajax for a €75million fee in 2019, accumulating 137 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The midfielder has been a key pillar in Barcelona's line-up this season, appearing 44 times, but the Catalan giants may be ready to move on as the interest from United intensifies.

TOP STORY – BARCA ARE CONSIDERING OFFERS FOR DE JONG

The Blaugrana are open-minded about potentially parting ways with De Jong, who is being closely linked with his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag for his new venture at United.

He is one of the main players on the Red Devils' wish-list, which Fichajes reports also includes Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

The Telegraph adds that Ten Hag has identified eight players "he can trust" at the club, while being on the fence about Marcus Rashford's future.

ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe is reporting RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku would like to leave the club after this season, with a desire to head to Manchester City, United, Paris Saint-Germain or Milan

Newcastle United have met with the agent of Watford's Ismaila Sarr but will have to match the club's £40million asking price, per FootballTransfers.

Bayer Leverkusen are planning a move for PSG youngster Eric-Junior Dina Ebimbe after failing to secure the deal during the January transfer window, according to RMC Sport.

– Sport is reporting Samuel Umtiti will leave Barcelona in the next transfer window and wants to return to Lyon, who will be competing for his services with Rennes, Montpellier and Nice

– Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha is unlikely to sign an extension with the club and could be sold in the next transfer window with his contract set to expire in 2023, according to The Times.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel told reporters he is not interested in Liverpool's hunt for a quadruple this season, and also gave credit to Timo Werner for finding form after the Blues' 2-0 FA Cup win against Crystal Palace.

Against Crystal Palace, Chelsea controlled throughout, with 67 per cent possession and double the amount of shots, but did not break the deadlock until the 65th minute through Ruben Loftus-Cheek, before Mason Mount doubled the advantage in the 76th minute.

With the win, they earned a spot in the FA Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley on May 14. It is Chelsea's third consecutive season making the final, losing 2-1 to Arsenal in 2020, and losing 1-0 against Leicester City in 2021.

Liverpool is still alive in the Premier League and Champions League, and beat Chelsea on penalties in the Carabao Cup, but Tuchel was not interested in discussing their potentially history-making season.

"I don’t care about [Liverpool's] other titles," he said.

"Of course, we lost a [Carabao Cup] final [to Liverpool]. We gave everything in that final, as you know, until the very last penalty. 

"We were unlucky and lost. We want to turn things around, but it will not give us the Carabao Cup title back.

"We were in the FA Cup final last season and we’re here again, it means unbelievably a lot to us.

"We will be well-prepared against one of the strongest teams in the world, who are in outstanding form given their results… it will be a tough one, [but] we will try to make life hard for them."

Tuchel also touched on the improving form of his striker after a slow start to the season, and his Chelsea career in general.

"We had a bit of a change in formation up front, so he played against Southampton, and [Werner] played alongside Kai [Havertz], with Mason [Mount] and Mateo Kovacic around him," he said.

"He likes that a lot, and has a good connection with them, so that was maybe the turnaround point for him. 

"He scored and had big chances. He was decisive in Madrid, and could have been the hero with the third goal, but unfortunately not. But he was involved; he scored, was involved, created chances and spaces, and did again today. 

"It was very hard to find spaces today and be decisive, but he assisted the second goal. Timo at the moment is a huge part [and deserves his place] in the team."

Chelsea star Mason Mount believes it is time for the Blues to win a final at Wembley.

Thomas Tuchel's side recovered from Champions League extra-time heartbreak against Real Madrid by coasting past Crystal Palace to reach a third successive FA Cup final on Sunday.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek struck with 25 minutes remaining as he slammed in his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, while Mount made sure of victory with a second nine minutes later.

The pair became the first English duo to score in a club game at Wembley for the Blues since Peter Houseman and Ian Hutchinson netted in the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United.

However, Mount does not have too many fond memories of England's national stadium, where he has lost an EFL Cup and two FA Cup finals, along with the Euro 2020 showpiece with England.

The 23-year-old was also a part of Derby County's Championship play-off final side that lost to Aston Villa in 2018-19, taking his tally at Wembley to five losses – a record he wants to overturn.

"It is a game we used to bounce back. It was a very, very tough game. They made it very difficult for us. They have some top players. It wasn't easy," he told ITV Sport after the game.

"The way we came through it we showed character.

"I am buzzing for Rubes [Loftus-Cheek]. He is a top, top player. He comes on in a difficult game and steps up. He is dominant and the way he drives the ball forward helps us. He was brilliant today.

"Timo Werner is brilliant, he has done so well the last couple of games. He had a chance in the second half that he missed but then ran all the way back to win the ball and that shows the player he is.

"It is time for us to win a final at Wembley. It is five finals I have lost, so we have to put the pressure on us to step up."

Chelsea now have to overcome Liverpool, who defeated the Blues on penalties in the EFL Cup final in February.

Indeed, it will be just the second time two sides will contest both the EFL Cup and FA Cup final in the same campaign after 1992-93, when Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday did so, with the Gunners winning both trophies that year.

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.

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