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.

Sadio Mane pledged Liverpool will fight for a "dream" quadruple after scoring twice in the Reds' thrilling FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City.

Mane added to Ibrahima Konate's opener with a first-half double, closing down stand-in City goalkeeper Zack Steffen to score in bizarre fashion before netting a brilliant volley on the stroke of half-time to make it 3-0.

Goals at either end of the second half from Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva hauled City back into the contest, but Liverpool held firm.

Having scored in a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium last week, Mane has now netted 10 goals against City in all competitions, only finding the net more often against Crystal Palace (12) amongst Premier League teams.

After becoming the first Liverpool player to score a Wembley double since Steve McManaman did so in the 1995 EFL Cup final against Bolton Wanderers, Mane told BBC Sport: "I think from the start of the game we played very well. We started very well, everybody was on the front foot, we pressed them high. 

"We pushed them to make a mistake [for his first goal] and for that we got our reward.

"That's Liverpool, that's our style of play. Of course, it was not easy for them. I think that made the difference.

"I think today is special because we faced one of the best teams in the world. If you win this kind of game – especially a semi-final – of course, it's a big dream, a big win. We are very pleased and very happy to qualify for the final."

With the Reds progressing to their first FA Cup final since 2012, in addition to battling City for the Premier League title and facing Villarreal in the Champions League semi-finals, they could yet win an unprecedented quadruple.

"We'll see," he said. "We have a lot of games to go, we will try to do our best. 

"It's a dream, for sure. We'll go for it, we'll fight for it."

 

Mane's brace also made him the first Liverpool player to score an FA Cup semi-final double since Robbie Fowler netted twice in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in 1996, and team-mate Thiago Alcantara was keen to highlight Mane's contribution.

"It talks about us, it talks about our hunger when we press like Sadio's [first] goal, it talks about the players we have in terms of Sadio's second goal, and also the great passers we have," he told Liverpool's official website.

"He [Mane] is a fighter with a lot of technique, so he knows how to mix it up and to do what we need. He was unbelievable.

"I think the first half was amazing, our best first half this season. Suddenly in the second half we just threw away the first half, but we are really happy with the qualification."

Liverpool's win was their first against City at Wembley, having lost both of their previous head-to-head clashes at the national stadium on penalties after 1-1 draws (the 2016 League Cup final and the 2019 Community Shield).

Manchester City's spirit against Liverpool cannot be questioned, according to Pep Guardiola, whose team exited the FA Cup on Saturday.

City went down 3-2 in their semi-final clash with the Reds at Wembley, as Jurgen Klopp's team took the bragging rights in this particular tussle and progressed to their 15th FA Cup final, albeit their first since 2012 (only Manchester United and Arsenal have appeared in the competition's showpiece match on more occasions).

Six days on from a thrilling 2-2 draw between City and Liverpool in the Premier League, a much-changed team from Guardiola found themselves 3-0 down at half-time.

Ibrahima Konate put Liverpool ahead early on and Sadio Mane doubled their tally in strange fashion when City's second-choice goalkeeper Zack Steffen made a blunder.

Mane's challenge on Steffen diverted the ball into the back of the net and the Liverpool forward got his second with a fine volley late in the first half.

Jack Grealish dragged City back into the contest and Bernardo Silva's goal set up some late tension, yet there would be no famous comeback.

Guardiola, though, could not fault the resolve of his team.

"Our momentum was there in the second half," he told BBC Sport.

"We had the chances to equalise. It was a difficult fixture because we came from somewhere like only we know where we came from, with games we had and the last five or six days away and people with the problems. The guys put in a lot of pride in the second half.

"We gave everything after a tough first half. For the first goal, the set pieces they are very, very strong. The second was an accident. Difficult to come back but they did it perfectly in the second half."

 

Asked if his team were feeling fatigued after a tough run of fixtures, Guardiola said: "It was not a question of tired. They were more tired in the first [half], football is not about the tiredness, it is about what you do and how it works and how you play.

"We finally have one or two days off. We know we have seven games and the Champions League, we are going to try to push and see what happens."

City have now lost four of their last five matches at Wembley, including three FA Cup semi-finals in the last three seasons, while they conceded three goals in the first half of a match for the first time since April 2018, when they also did so against Liverpool in the Champions League.

Steffen had to hold his hands up for Liverpool's second goal and arguably should have done better for their third.

The United States international's error for Mane's first effort was similar to a mistake made by team-mate Ederson in last week's clash with Liverpool, though the Brazilian got away with it on that occasion. 

"It was an accident," Guardiola said. "One of the strong points is try to play [out] and as a goalkeeper he has this quality.

"It was an accident and he will learn for the future. When the ball is there it can always happen. I have spoken with the team, not him personally, but he is strong."

Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City in condemning the fans who chanted during a minute's silence for victims of the Hillsborough disaster prior to Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Wembley.

The game, which Jurgen Klopp's men won 3-2, was the closest Reds match to Friday's 33rd anniversary of the tragedy, which occurred during an FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool in Sheffield.

A crush in the stands ultimately led to the unlawful deaths of 97 people.

Just before kick-off on Saturday, a minute's silence in memory of the victims began but was then cut short by referee Michael Oliver as some City fans could be heard chanting.

Although seemingly a minority of City supporters, it was clearly audible throughout the stadium and led to angry boos from Liverpool fans.

A statement released by City during the game read: "Manchester City are extremely disappointed with the actions of some City supporters during the minute's silence before today's game.

"The club sincerely apologises to all those connected with Liverpool Football Club."

In his post-match media conference, Guardiola was asked if he wanted to add anything to the statement made by the club.

"Absolutely," he said. "The club made a statement, they [responsible for the chanting] don't represent who we want to be.

"We are close to Liverpool, who went through this tragedy and I think the statement from the club represents who we are."

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp later accepted City's apology, saying at his news conference: "Some people didn't understand the situation.

"It was not nice and felt really wrong in the moment. Of course we accept City's apology."

Jurgen Klopp was overjoyed after seeing Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-2 to reach the FA Cup final in their pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple, convinced they beat the world's best team.

Liverpool secured their spot in the English football showpiece for the first time since 2012 with a thrilling victory at Wembley on Saturday, though for a while it looked set to be far more comfortable than it ultimately proved.

The Reds were 3-0 up at half-time thanks to an Ibrahima Konate header and Sadio Mane's double – his first punished a Zack Steffen lapse, before then lashing in an excellent volley for his second.

City pulled one back through Jack Grealish and forced a tense finish when Bernardo Silva made it 3-2 in stoppage time, but Liverpool held on to leave Klopp jubilant.

"Oh absolutely proud, it's incredible," he told BBC Sport. "I think the first half was one of the best we've ever played.

"We did all the right stuff, scored at the right moments, we played an incredible game in the first half, I have to say. I loved every second of it.

"The second half started with the City goal and then it opens up. The quality of City is insane and you could see it was a much more open game.

"We had our situations. [TV pundit] Micah Richards said it was all City situations, but we had our counter-attacks and we could have closed the game there, but we respect the quality of City so much.

"It's so difficult to win against them, but because of these boys in my dressing room, we have a chance. It's enough for me to give it a try."

The victory means Liverpool remain on course for the quadruple. They have already won the EFL Cup, are into the Champions League semi-finals and continue to push City in the Premier League title race.

Klopp stressed that prolonging their season makes winning the quadruple tougher even if it is the only way to secure a clean sweep, but he appeared to be relishing the challenge after defeating the team that he believes sets the bar for everyone else in world football.

"Quadruple talk… I can't believe it," he continued. "With this game now, I'm not sure we have another full week before the last matchday, so it's all difficult.

"But who cares, we came here wanting to go to the final, we knew about the problems, but the quadruple – qualifying for this kind of final makes it even more difficult.

"It's the only way to do it but makes it more difficult too, so it's a strange situation. But all good, we are over the moon. We beat the best team in the world and that's a pretty special moment."

Liverpool will find out their opponents for next month's final on Sunday, when Crystal Palace and Chelsea tussle at Wembley.

An unlikely quadruple remains very much on for Liverpool after a 3-2 victory against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

The national stadium was bathed in sunshine, resplendent, eagerly anticipating round two of arguably the biggest heavyweight clash in world football right now.

Fair enough, technically round three if you include the Anfield game earlier this season, but it felt like a second leg after last week's exhilarating 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium that left City one point ahead of the Reds in the race for the Premier League title.

A relatively innocent declaration from former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher recently that this is now the biggest rivalry in English football caused uproar from those who remember the days of Manchester United and Arsenal going at it, publicly hating one another, fiery encounters, pizza lobbing. That rivalry admittedly had it all.

This is a rivalry of quality, though. It would be a stretch to say City and Liverpool like each other, but there is a clear mutual respect, which some claim stops it being a proper rivalry.

It is an odd thing to point to when the same people were seemingly disgusted by the scenes at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday as City and Atletico Madrid players did not exactly shake hands after the final whistle.

There was some ill-feeling in Wembley ahead of kick-off, with a section of City fans choosing to make noise during a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, which the Manchester club later condemned in a statement.

Purely from a football perspective, this is as good as it gets, possibly in the world. It is the new Real Madrid v Barcelona, and this was the latest chapter, their first meeting at Wembley since the 2019 Community Shield, which City won on penalties.

 

Of course, no-one particularly wanted to be at Wembley, as nice as it looked. With travel from the north west of England heavily affected by a lack of train services over the Easter weekend, questions were raised as to why both sets of fans were forced to travel to London to play a game that was not even a final, but that is a conversation for another day.

On this day, it was the red of Liverpool that reigned supreme.

A strong start for Klopp's men saw Ibrahima Konate continue his recent goalscoring form, nodding in his third goal for Liverpool in the space of four games from Andy Robertson's outswinging corner.

The freshness of the Reds told in the early stages, with Klopp having rested a number of key players in the week, while City had experienced a tough away trip to Madrid, and Guardiola was forced to make several changes to his usual line-up.

His decision to swap goalkeepers soon came back to bite him as Sadio Mane closed down Zack Steffen. While Ederson had teased Diogo Jota at the Etihad in a similar way, Steffen could not match the Brazilian's calmness and saw himself tackled by Mane to concede a farcical second.

Liverpool's midfield was masterful at Wembley. Fabinho managed to keep City's band of attacking midfielders relatively quiet, even after picking up a first-half yellow card. Thiago was just as mesmeric as he had been at the Etihad, finding or creating space, making full use of the vast pitch, and it was his sumptuous dinked ball out to Mane that led to the third, with the Senegalese smashing home inside Steffen's near post.

 

Of all three Liverpool midfielders, though, you could argue it was Naby Keita who stood out most.

The Guinea international has struggled for fitness and consistency pretty much ever since he arrived in a big-money move from RB Leipzig in 2018, but picked ahead of captain Jordan Henderson for this huge game, he did not let his manager down.

Keita won possession seven times, more than any other player on the pitch in the 73 minutes he featured, and with the ball during that time, nearly matched Thiago (26) for passes in the opposition half (24).

Last week's league encounter had seen City dominate the first half before Liverpool came back in the second, and it seemed the reverse was happening here, except the Merseysiders made more of their dominance with a three-goal lead at the break.

Guardiola's men started the second half much quicker, and had pulled it back to 3-1 within minutes, with a nice Gabriel Jesus run ending with Jack Grealish firing home, just days after admitting he wanted to score more goals after his £100million move from Aston Villa last year.

This was not the same City as last week though, quite literally given the number of changes, and they rarely looked like troubling their title rivals after that, with Jesus hitting an effort when through on goal straight at fellow countryman Alisson.

The Premier League leaders struggled, with just one shot in the first half and Grealish's goal their first effort on target. Their passing accuracy was also way down from its usual high standards at just 80.5 per cent, playing more long balls and failing to deal with Liverpool's famous press.

Though he did not find the net himself, the impact of Luis Diaz was clear for all to see again. The Colombian seems to be improving alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah game on game.

He won four fouls as he was a constant thorn in the side of Joao Cancelo, while Mane also carried on the fine form he showed at the Etihad.

The former Southampton man became the first Liverpool player to score twice in an FA Cup semi-final since Robbie Fowler against Aston Villa in 1996, and the first to score a brace for the Reds at Wembley since Steve McManaman in the League Cup final against Bolton Wanderers in 1995.

In typical City fashion, they refused to give up until the end, making things interesting with a second goal back in stoppage time courtesy of Bernardo Silva after fine work from substitute Riyad Mahrez.

This was Liverpool's day, though, and if City struck a blow by staying ahead of the Reds in the league last week, Klopp's men responded with one of their own here as we head towards what promises to be an increasingly fascinating rivalry.

Liverpool fans sang Dua Lipa's 'One Kiss' as they got ready for a long journey back up the motorway, safe in the knowledge that history still beckons this season.

Liverpool's quadruple hopes remain intact as they beat rivals Manchester City 3-2 to secure their spot in the FA Cup final.

The Reds and City are neck-and-neck in the Premier League and could yet contest the Champions League final, but Saturday's win at Wembley made it advantage Liverpool in their 2021-22 trophies duel.

While City were without Kyle Walker and only had Kevin De Bruyne on the bench due to injury, Liverpool restored several key players to their line-up after a midweek rest and it was evident throughout a first half that the Reds dominated.

Liverpool were 3-0 up by half-time thanks to Ibrahima Konate's early header and a Sadio Mane double, with City goalkeeper Zack Steffen at fault for the Senegal forward's first goal.

Jack Grealish pulled one back early in the second period and Bernardo Silva's late tap-in forced a tense finish, but Liverpool held on.

Jurgen Klopp's men were ahead inside nine minutes, Konate towering above everyone to head home Andrew Robertson's corner.

It was 2-0 soon after. Where Ederson escaped a goal-line blunder in their Premier League showdown last weekend, Steffen was punished by Mane as the attacker's tackle saw the ball ricochet into the net.

City seemingly found themselves all but beaten on the stroke of half-time, Mane lashing home on the volley after a sublime Thiago Alcantara pass.

Grealish picked out the top-left corner with a lovely finish of his own just after the restart, and Silva nudged in from close range in second-half stoppage time to set Liverpool nerves jangling.

But it was too little, too late for City as two fantastic defensive blocks helped Liverpool hold firm to reach a first FA Cup final in 10 years.

Manchester City say they are "extremely disappointed" with a section of their fans that made noise during a minute's silence ahead of their FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The silence was to mark 33 years since the Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 97 Liverpool supporters.

Although it appeared to be a small number of City fans making noise, it was clearly audible throughout the stadium and led to understandably angry boos from the Liverpool fans.

A statement released by City during the game read: "Manchester City are extremely disappointed with the actions of some City supporters during the minute’s silence before today’s game.

"The club sincerely apologises to all those connected with Liverpool Football Club."

 

Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne lost their race to be fit to start for Manchester City in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

The duo were doubts after suffering knocks in the Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid in midweek.

While De Bruyne was named among the City substitutes for the meeting between the Premier League titles at Wembley – the second encounter between the sides in the space of six days – Walker missed out altogether.

Ruben Dias was also included on the City bench after being out since late February due to injury, with a pairing of John Stones and Nathan Ake tasked with stopping Liverpool's forward line of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz.

Zack Steffen replaced Ederson in goal, while there were also starts for Jack Grealish, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.

Fernandinho took the captain's armband after replacing Rodri in midfield, just days after revealing he intends to leave City at the end of the season.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was left out of Jurgen Klopp's starting XI, with a midfield of Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita.

Salah and Mane returned after being named on the bench in the Champions League against Benfica in midweek, while Ibrahima Konate was again preferred to Joel Matip in defence alongside Virgil van Dijk.

Alisson sees similarities between himself and Brazil colleague Ederson but accepts the Manchester City goalkeeper "looks more cool".

Liverpool keeper Alisson moved to the Premier League in 2018, 12 months after Ederson had signed for City.

The two have since set the standard in England and beyond, establishing themselves as two of the best shot-stoppers in world football.

Alisson has the gloves for Brazil, earning 54 caps to Ederson's 18, but there is little to separate the pair.

They each have 17 clean sheets in the Premier League this season – five more than their nearest rivals – while only Josa Sa (10.0) and David de Gea (6.0) have prevented more goals according to expected goals on target data.

Alisson has saved 75.6 per cent of the on-target shots he has faced, preventing 1.7 goals, with Ederson's save percentage of 71.0 slightly lower as he has prevented 1.8 goals.

Where Ederson comes out on top, though, is with the ball at his feet. Alisson's passing accuracy of 84.8 per cent ranks second among Premier League keepers but trails his countryman's outstanding 88.4 per cent. The City man is the only keeper in the division to complete more than half of his long passes (56.4 per cent), too.

Ederson's ability in possession was on show last week in a moment that garnered plenty of attention when Alisson and Liverpool visited the Etihad Stadium for a 2-2 draw.

A rare slack touch in his six-yard box, with Diogo Jota closing in, did not concern Ederson, who calmly played a square pass along his goal-line – showing the cool that makes him stand out.

 

"Ederson is a fantastic goalkeeper, fantastic guy as well, really nice," Alisson told Liverpool's official website ahead of another meeting with City in the FA Cup semi-finals.

"We have a good relationship playing together in the national team, fighting for a place in the team. 

"The things that he has achieved with his team as well are big, the level he's playing as well is high. 

"He's among the top goalkeepers in the world – maybe top three, four in my opinion. One of the best with the feet, if not the best. 

"I think we have a similar approach to the game. We are calm on the pitch, calm with the ball, players who like to play with the team as well, like to build up. We also play with teams who like to build up from behind – not only long kicks. This helps us. 

"I think he looks more cool than me – sometimes I am more angry or put more energy on things.

"Each one of us has our own skills, our own characters, but we are performing really well and in a consistent way as well."

Ederson's unerring calm was highlighted by Pep Guardiola this week, telling reporters: "This guy is crazy, honestly. Sometimes, I think, if he doesn't feel something...

"For me, for a keeper, it's top to have that feeling. Concede a goal? He's calm. Make a save? He's calm. He's so stable and, as a keeper, it's fantastic.

"For the people outside, it's completely different. In that moment, I thought it couldn't be as close [to the line]; after, I saw the image on TV. It's one inch to the goal, and it doesn't matter."

Pep Guardiola likened Manchester City's rivalry with Liverpool to an NBA playoffs series as he challenged his players to slam dunk their way into the FA Cup final.

City have a second treble in their sights this term, having previously completed a clean sweep of the three English domestic trophies in the 2018-19 season.

They can capture the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League this time, but Liverpool are a team who might deny them on all fronts, making Saturday's Wembley semi-final a tantalising prospect.

Guardiola said he had no regrets about City's disappointing record in FA Cup semi-finals during his reign. They have won only one of four matches at the last-four stage in this competition under his command, beating Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 on the way to the 2019 showpiece before crushing Watford 6-0 in the final.

Arsenal have beaten City twice at this stage during Guardiola's reign, and Chelsea surprisingly had their number last season in the semi-finals.

Ahead of his fifth such occasion, Guardiola said: "I would have loved from five semi-finals to reach five finals and win all five finals. This would have been my dream, but the word 'regret', I don't have it.

"I don't have any regrets for my players. When they're losing I am closer to them.

"We arrive now one month and a half to the end of the season, we are in the position of having two semi-finals in the big competitions.

"We are in the Premier League on top of the league, and we are in the semi-finals of the other two competitions.

"Come on, it's so great. We are so satisfied about what we have done so far, but it is not enough. So try one more time, one more time, one more game, one more game."

Saturday's clash will be the first FA Cup meeting between City and Liverpool since Gerard Houllier's Reds ran out 1-0 winners away from home against Kevin Keegan's men in 2003, with Danny Murphy netting the winner.

It follows just six days after the teams met in the Premier League, battling out a gripping 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium, and with both sides through to the Champions League semi-finals, there is a possible further meeting on the horizon in the final of that competition.

Guardiola was asked if he had ever known such a rivalry where two sides were so dominant across a host of competitions, prompting him to point to a rivalry between his Barcelona and Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid in the 2010-11 season.

As that campaign boiled to its peak, the Clasico foes played one another four times in 18 days, consisting of two legs of a Champions League semi-final, a Copa del Rey final, and a LaLiga game.

Barcelona took the Champions League honours and went on to beat Manchester United in the final, Madrid won the Copa del Rey, and the league game finished in stalemate, with Guardiola's team soon securing the title.

Just as then with Madrid, Guardiola is always wanting to learn more about the opposition.

"Of course, always you learn – every time you play against Liverpool you learn another thing," he said.

"It's like the playoffs in basketball. When you play in a short time many times. We played them one week ago and this is the second. With Madrid... it was like a real playoff."

Kevin De Bruyne has had stitches in a lower-leg injury, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola revealed on the eve of the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

In-form playmaker De Bruyne and right-back Kyle Walker are doubtful for the Wembley game after both missed training on Friday.

Both De Bruyne and Walker hobbled out of City's 0-0 draw at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday. Walker has a twisted ankle.

Guardiola said De Bruyne's injury was not a muscular issue and mentioned the midfielder's calf and foot when asked about the problem.

To lose him or Walker – or even both senior men – for such a major occasion would be a blow to City.

"We will see tomorrow. Apparently, it will be so close after what happened on Wednesday, but we will see," Guardiola said.

City are chasing a treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League titles that has only been achieved once before, by Manchester United 23 years ago.

Walker's injury was described by Guardiola as "a big twist, but it's getting better".

"We will see in the next hours, the next days. In football these kinds of things happen. We will adapt, adjust and go from here," Guardiola said. "Kevin had stitches after he had contact – it's not a muscular injury."

City, who have been preparing for the Liverpool game at Millwall's training ground in south London, are feeling the strain at this stage of the season.

They have travelled from Madrid to London, rather than preparing in Manchester and then making another long journey, with Guardiola pointing to the demands of broadcasters as the reason his team must play such an important game less than 72 hours since their last huge assignment in Spain.

"We have to adapt," Guardiola added.

He said City could "dream to be in better conditions, but it's not going to happen", given the tight turnaround.

De Bruyne scored in last Sunday's 2-2 Premier League draw with Liverpool, who were also in Champions League action on Wednesday, reaching the semi-finals at Benfica's expense.

"We're going to perform well. Like I said to the players, I don't want any excuse," Guardiola said.

"It is what it is and for that we have to go there tomorrow in Wembley Stadium and try to do our game."

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 are going from one blockbuster meeting to another, and an FA Cup semi-final awaits on Saturday for Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

It would be easy to assume this is almost customary when teams are as dominant as City and Liverpool have been domestically of late, but it is not strictly the case.

Their Wembley showdown will be just the third FA Cup semi-final clash of the Premier League era between teams who have begun the day in the top two of the latter competition.

Considering this is the 30th season of the Premier League, it goes to show such showdowns cannot be taken for granted.

It has been even more rare for the eventual top two in the Premier League to contest an FA Cup final, with Chelsea denying Manchester United a double in 2006-07 in the only example of that game coming to fruition.

Here, Stats Perform looks back at the two previous FA Cup semi-finals to feature the then current Premier League top two. Could City and Liverpool, packed with attacking talent, produce drama to match these thrillers?


1999: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal (replay, after 0-0 in first game), Villa Park

Memorable moment: David Beckham scored from 30 yards, and Peter Schmeichel saved a Dennis Bergkamp penalty, but the replay in front of a smattering over 30,000 fans at Villa Park will be remembered almost exclusively for Ryan Giggs' chest hair. Sorry... goal. Yes, definitely for his goal.

Injury limited Giggs to just 24 league appearances that season, and he managed just five goal involvements across those games (3 goals, 2 assists), the fewest he would have in a Premier League campaign until 2012-13 and 2013-14, his twilight final years as a player.

After Beckham's fine first-half opener, Arsenal drew level in the 69th minute when Bergkamp scored from similarly long range with the help of a deflection, and United were in trouble when Roy Keane was sent off five minutes later. Schmeichel came to the rescue with a spot-kick save after Phil Neville tripped Ray Parlour at the death in normal time, and then it was over to Giggs. Vintage Giggs.

Early in the second half of extra time, a stray pass from Patrick Vieira was intercepted 15 yards inside United's half by Giggs in left midfield. From there he snaked through a weary Arsenal rearguard, showing remarkable close control of a bobbling ball on a pitch that was cutting up, before smashing a shot past David Seaman at his near post. Off came his shirt, Giggs celebrating wildly, United on their way to the final.

What came next: United had been a point ahead of Arsenal and third-placed Chelsea in the Premier League title race, and it remained close all the way, with victory over Tottenham on the final day making sure Alex Ferguson's side won that title. They carried off the FA Cup too, goals from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes earning a 2-0 win over Newcastle United, and the most special moment came at Camp Nou, where Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struck late to give the Red Devils a famous 2-1 success over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, and the first and only such treble by an English club. City might match that this season, while Liverpool could even top it, having already won the EFL Cup, with the FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League still in their sights.

2017: Chelsea 4-2 Tottenham, Wembley

Memorable moment: Nemanja Matic sealed the spoils for Chelsea with a remarkable 30-yard drive into the top corner, as the Premier League's then London elite met at Wembley.

Chelsea were four points ahead of Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham at the top of the table, with Antonio Conte looking good to mark his first season in England with silverware. They had a double in their sights too, and although Tottenham twice came from behind to cancel out two goals from Willian in this semi-final, thanks to Harry Kane and Dele Alli, it was Chelsea who prevailed thanks to substitute Eden Hazard's sizzling low strike and a remarkable finish from Matic 10 minutes from time.

Fed a short pass by Hazard, Matic lashed an unstoppable left-footed drive into the top-right corner, thudding in off the underside of the crossbar.

What came next: Chelsea duly wrapped up the league title with two games to spare as Tottenham reluctantly settled for second, seven points off the pace in the final reckoning. But for all their domestic dominance up to that point, a savage twist arrived in the FA Cup final, where Arsenal awaited them. Arsene Wenger's Gunners finished only fifth in the Premier League, but they had kept something in reserve for Wembley as goals from Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey gave the Gunners the trophy.

Conte got his hands on the FA Cup a year later but was sacked before the new season began; after returning to football with Inter, and landing a Scudetto in Milan, Conte could not resist a return to London when Tottenham came calling last November.

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