Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has claimed Ruben Loftus-Cheek has hid his talent and potential for a number of years after his FA Cup semi-final goal against Crystal Palace.
The Blues struggled to break Palace down in the first-half and it was the Chiekhou Kouyate who went closest as his shot drew a fine save from Edouard Mendy.
However, second-half goals from Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount saw Chelsea advance to their third FA Cup final in a row and set up a clash with Liverpool at Wembley on May 14th.
Speaking to the media after the game, Tuchel said: “It was not easy because we played three games in three different competitions. 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 counterattacks. It was hard, the opponent changed system twice, you cannot lose focus for a minute.
“He [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] was very, very strong in matches against Southampton and Real Madrid, he would have deserved to start but we expected a back four. 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.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s game by numbers vs. Crystal Palace:
100% take-on success
100% shot accuracy
5 duels won
2 fouls won
The match winner. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ggaOIaMSQi
— Squawka (@Squawka) April 17, 2022
The clash with Liverpool will be Chelsea’s third FA Cup final in a row and Tuchel is delighted to be back again.
“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.”
Midfielder Loftus-Cheek admitted he is happy with how his season is going but is aiming to get revenge on Liverpool, who beat them in the Carabao Cup final, next month.
“Way overdue [the goal]! It has been a tough road with injuries and going on loan to find my form again but I always believed in myself and I always wanted to play for Chelsea. I have played quite a lot this season, I am happy.
“I was just thinking hit it, I think it took a little deflection but I’ll take it! I had to be ready to step in. It looked a bit slow in the first half so I just wanted to bring some energy.
“The reason I am still here is my mentality through all the injuries. I still believed in myself and I said for many years my time will come.
“We want to get them back, simple as that. It was a fantastic game in the League Cup final and could have gone either way.”