Conor Gallagher scored the equaliser as Chelsea fought back from two goals down to clinch a deserved 2-2 draw with Champions League-chasing Aston Villa on Saturday.

Villa looked set to go nine points clear of Tottenham in the race to finish in the Premier League's top four, with Marc Cucurella's own goal and Morgan Rogers' low drive giving them a handsome half-time lead.

Mauricio Pochettino's men dominated much of the first half without reward, but they continued to press after the interval and cultured finishes from Noni Madueke and Gallagher dragged them level.

They almost completed a fine comeback in stoppage time, but there was relief for Villa when referee Craig Pawson disallowed a goal for Chelsea defender Axel Disasi following a VAR review due to an infringement from Benoit Badiashile.

It meant Villa boss Unai Emery was unable to celebrate his new long-term contract with three points, with his team now seven points clear of fifth-placed Spurs, who have three games in hand on their rivals.

Chelsea stay ninth and are five points adrift of the top seven, but with a game in hand to come, their European hopes are not yet over.

Villa made a flying start and were ahead within four minutes, albeit in somewhat fortunate circumstances. John McGinn didn't get a clean connection on Lucas Digne's left-wing cutback, but his shot bounced off Cucurella and into the net.

Chelsea thought they were level after 16 minutes as Nicolas Jackson raced clear to finish into the roof of the net, but his strike was disallowed for offside after a VAR review, with replays showing he was leaning beyond Matty Cash.

Jackson should then have equalised when found by Cucurella six yards out, but he could only send his header against the foot of the post and wide.

Villa then doubled their lead against the run of play shortly before half-time, with Djordje Petrovic powerless as Rogers squeezed his shot through Trevoh Chalobah's legs and in.

A hamstring injury saw Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez withdrawn at half-time, and his replacement Robin Olsen was beaten after 62 minutes, Madueke stroking home after Gallagher forced a high turnover. 

Olsen stuck out an arm to deny Madueke a second with 71 minutes gone, but he had no chance as the Blues levelled with nine minutes to play, Gallagher rifling a left-footed finish into the top-left corner.

Chelsea thought they had won it when Disasi headed home five minutes into stoppage time, but referee Pawson disallowed the goal following a VAR review, with Badiashile adjudged to have fouled Diego Carlos in the build-up.

Villa throw it away

Villa could hardly have wished for a stronger position at half-time. Despite Chelsea carving out several good openings, they found themselves 2-0 up and primed to exploit their opponents further through the pace of Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey.

Chelsea had lost 16 of their previous 18 Premier League games when trailing at half-time (one win, one draw), losing their last eight when two or more goals behind at the break.

However, Emery's men simply didn't get going after the restart, and only a late VAR review saved them from a crushing defeat, with Disasi's potential winner chalked off for a foul by fellow defender Badiashile.

Gallagher leads from the front

Gallagher has polarised opinion at times this season, but Chelsea's stand-in skipper produced a talismanic display just when his team needed him most at Villa Park.

The England international is known for his tenacious work out of possession, and he forced a turnover on the corner of the Villa box in the build-up to Madueke's goal.

Gallagher's own strike, which flew into the top corner to stun the home faithful, took him to double figures for Premier League goal involvements for the season (four goals, six assists). He has only achieved that feat in one other campaign in the competition, scoring eight goals and adding three assists on loan at Crystal Palace in 2021-22.

Four of his seven Premier League goals for Chelsea, meanwhile, have now come from outside the area.

Mauricio Pochettino has reminded his team to respect themselves as they prepare for another tough game against Aston Villa on Saturday.

After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City last Saturday, the Blues were thrashed 5-0 by title-chasing Arsenal in midweek for their 11th defeat of the season.

Chelsea still have an outside chance of finishing in the top seven as they sit just three points behind Newcastle United with two games in hand.

Asked if his side are capable of putting the disappointment of their last two results behind them, Pochettino said: “Lack of belief, in the circumstances, sometimes happens.

“We tried to realise how we need to behave when the game is tough when the demands are so high. We need to try and be more strong and to trust in the way that we play, in our philosophy, in the way we prepare the games.

“We need to be positive, and we need to be strong and believe tomorrow we can have a good game, good attitude, good approach. We are going to compete again with another team, fighting for the top. We need to think we are Chelsea and respect ourselves."

Chelsea will be without Enzo Fernandez for their final six games of the season due to a groin issue.

Fernandez was forced off with an injury during Chelsea's 5-0 defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday.

And it has now been confirmed the 23-year-old World Cup winner has undergone surgery, and will subsequently miss the final month of Chelsea's campaign.

Fernandez has made 28 Premier League appearances this season, scoring three goals. Chelsea did not put a timeframe on his return, though Argentina will be hoping the former Benfica star is fit to feature in the Copa America, which begins in late June.

The Blues sit ninth in the table, though they do have games in hand on all of their rivals for European qualification.

Mauricio Pochettino's team take on Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa on Saturday, with fixtures against Tottenham, West Ham Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Bournemouth to follow.

Conor Gallagher insists Chelsea's players are putting in the required effort amid fierce fan criticism in the aftermath of Tuesday's 5-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Chelsea's miserable first season under Mauricio Pochettino took another turn for the worse at the Emirates Stadium as they were put to the sword by Mikel Arteta's title contenders.

The Gunners racked up 27 shots at goal as they recorded their biggest ever victory over Chelsea, who looked devoid of inspiration with leading goalscorer Cole Palmer sidelined due to illness.

During the game, one disgruntled travelling fan held up a banner which read: "I don't want your shirt, I just want you to fight for ours".

The charge that Chelsea are not fighting for results was put to Gallagher by TNT Sports after the game, and the Blues' stand-in captain denied that was the case.  

"We definitely are putting the effort in," Gallagher said. "I know how much it means to all the boys. It's a very young squad with not much experience as a team in the Premier League.

"This season we've had a lot of ups and downs. We're still improving and working as a team to get to that next level.

"Today was one of those days where we were nowhere near it and we need to dust ourselves off, look at the performance, where we can improve and all the mistakes we made."

The defeat means Chelsea remain ninth in the Premier League table, three points adrift of sixth-placed Newcastle United and Manchester United in seventh, with both of those teams in action on Wednesday.

Pochettino's men face another daunting task on Saturday when they travel to Champions League-chasing Aston Villa, before hosting Tottenham in another London derby next Thursday.

Mauricio Pochettino slammed Chelsea's lack of consistency after they were thrashed 5-0 by Arsenal on Tuesday, saying: "When we have bad days, we are so bad." 

Chelsea travelled to the Emirates Stadium looking to close the gap to the Premier League's top seven, but instead saw their European hopes further dented by a chastening 5-0 defeat. 

The defeat was Chelsea's heaviest ever against the Gunners in all competitions, and their worst in a London derby since they lost 6-0 to Queens Park Rangers in March 1986.

The fact that dismal performance came just three days after Chelsea pushed Manchester City close in the teams' FA Cup semi-final only served to rile Pochettino.

"We are showing this inconsistency and that is why we are where we are," Pochettino said.

"We are able to have an amazing performance and then one like this. When we have bad days, we are so bad. It's difficult to talk. We were talking in the same way after last season.

"We put in a fantastic performance at Wembley and then today, you can lose a game at Arsenal but in the way we competed… why one day, three days ago and then today in this way?"

Chelsea have now conceded 57 goals in the Premier League this season, their outright most in a single campaign in the competition, having previously shipped 55 in both 1994-95 and 1996-97.

In attack, they managed just one shot on target in the absence of Cole Palmer, with the Premier League's joint-leading goalscorer missing out due to illness.

Asked about the impact of losing Palmer, Pochettino added: "It wasn't the reason we lost the game, but you lose such a creative player that helps to play in the lines. 

"It's difficult to lose players in these circumstances – that made the management very difficult. But today was more than that.

"We didn't compete from the beginning and it was difficult to be in the game against a team fighting for the Premier League. It's no coincidence. 

"We need to compete in a different way but we are talking too much. We want to be in a different position next season. We need to take decisions."

Mikel Arteta hailed an “unbelievable” performance from Kai Havertz after his two goals helped Arsenal move three points clear at the top of the Premier League with a thumping 5-0 win over Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

The 24-year-old, who struggled in his early appearances after swapping Stamford Bridge for north London in the summer, gave a superb display against his former side as the leaders heaped more misery on visiting manager Mauricio Pochettino, who saw his ninth-place team slump to a worst-ever league defeat against Arsenal.

Havertz struck twice as part of an 18-minute blitz in the second half as Arteta’s team won for the second time in four days, continuing their recovery from successive losses to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

“He (Havertz) was unbelievable, in all departments,” said Arteta.

“For a nine to score two goals the way he scored, his contribution was great. It’s a question for him but I’m sure he’s very pleased.”

The Arsenal onslaught began after only four minutes, Declan Rice sliding the ball into a channel on the left of the penalty area from where Leandro Trossard took over, dinking past defender Alfie Gilchrist, on his first Premier League start, and thudding it through the legs of Djordje Petrovic.

Thereafter Chelsea competed gamely, going close to equalising when Axel Disasi just failed to reach a flick-on from a corner and again when Nicolas Jackson’s effort was deflected onto the post by Gabriel, but in the space of under 20 minutes after the interval they fell to pieces.

First, Ben White reacted quickest to sweep home after Rice’s shot was blocked, then Havertz got his first of the night with a lofted finish over the goalkeeper.

The former Chelsea forward made it 4-0, his shot pinging in off the post with Petrovic rooted, before White provided the moment of the match with a cross-shot that sailed across the face of goal and in from Martin Odegaard’s pass.

“It was a big performance, collectively and individually,” said Arteta, whose side moved clear at the top ahead of Sunday’s derby against Tottenham but have played a game more than Liverpool and two more than Manchester City.

“I thought we were really good, against a really good team that was in great form and were going to ask us a lot of questions. I think we responded really well.

“From the start we were really determined, really flowing, playing with a lot of courage and making things happen. Really happy with the result. It’s a big day for our supporters.

“It’s great for us, for the confidence and for the belief that we can do it, we can come to these stages against big teams and win games the way we’ve done it tonight. So enjoy it, then it’s back to work tomorrow because we have a big one on Sunday.”

Chelsea boss Pochettino, for whom Arteta admitted to have “all the sympathy in the world,” gave a downcast assessment of his team’s prospects of qualifying for Europe after a humbling loss.

“Now it is difficult to see the future because after this game we feel disappointed,” he said. “It is difficult to talk about objectives.

“If we compete like Saturday (in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to City), OK. But if we compete like today, I think we deserve to go into Europe? I think in this way, no.”

Kai Havertz scored twice against his former club as Arsenal tightened their grip on top spot in the Premier League by denting Chelsea’s European aspirations with a thumping 5-0 win.

Gunners forward Havertz, who made a £65million switch from Stamford Bridge last summer, registered two of four second-half goals on a remarkable evening at a jubilant Emirates Stadium.

Defender Ben White also claimed a brace for Mikel Arteta’s title-chasing side, adding to Leandro Trossard’s early opener, as the Blues’ recent resurgence floundered in embarrassing fashion in the absence of key man Cole Palmer.

Victory moved Arsenal three points ahead of second-placed Liverpool having now played one game more, while reigning champions Manchester City sit four points behind with two matches in hand.

Outclassed Chelsea squandered a series of chances, with Nicolas Jackson particularly culpable, as they suffered a first defeat in nine top-flight games and missed the chance to climb to seventh.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men made the short trip across the capital on the back of a painful FA Cup semi-final defeat to Pep Guardiola’s City and without 20-goal top scorer Palmer due to illness.

Blues academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist was handed a first Premier League start as part of four changes, while Arsenal recalled Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey.

The Gunners, who suffered a damaging 2-0 loss to Aston Villa in their last home game before exiting the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, began brightly and led inside four minutes.

Declan Rice was afforded time and space to advance deep into opposition territory before slipping in Trossard to escape Gilchrist and fire a low left-footed shot from a tight angle which was allowed to squirm home by Blues goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic.

Chelsea’s evening could quickly have gone downhill but Jackson avoided a potential eighth-minute red card after catching Tomiyasu’s ankle with his studs.

Arsenal, whose players wore black armbands following the death last week of former club chairman Sir Chips Keswick at the age of 84, continued to be the dominant force.

Ex-Chelsea academy player Rice fired narrowly over from the edge of the box following a delightful pirouette, before the visitors almost snatched a fortuitous leveller.

After Jackson outpaced William Saliba down the left wing, his attempted cut back deflected off Gabriel and struck the outside of the near post.

Petrovic then atoned for his costly early error by denying Havertz and, moments later, pulling off a fine reaction save to repel Trossard’s effort which took a hefty touch off Axel Disasi.

A pulsating, end-to-end encounter showed little sign of relenting.

Gunners defender White produced a crucial block to deny Marc Cucurella after good work from Noni Madueke, before Enzo Fernandez side-footed the rebound just wide.

Jackson inexplicably handled a golden headed chance from Conor Gallagher’s cross as a breathless opening period finished with a flurry of yellow cards, including one for Arteta.

The Arsenal boss would have been keen for his side to kill off the contest as quickly as possible – and duly got his wish.

Petrovic saved well from Rice and Havertz before the hosts secured breathing space seven minutes after the restart.

Following a short corner between Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, Rice was again denied – this time by the leg of Gallagher – only for the unmarked White to sweep in the loose ball.

The result was put beyond doubt just five minutes later, with the identity of the goalscorer particularly painful for the travelling fans.

Havertz, who scored Chelsea’s winner in the 2021 Champions League final, was superbly released by Odegaard and held off Cucurella to lift the ball over Petrovic, sparking wild scenes in the stands followed by taunts aimed at the away end.

Jackson’s wasteful evening continued as he hit the side-netting with only David Raya to beat before Arsenal piled on the misery for former Tottenham boss Pochettino.

Havertz doubled his tally in the 65th minute by firing home via the right post after receiving the ball from Saka.

White replicated the Germany international’s achievement only five minutes later when his attempted volley across goal from Odegaard’s dinked pass inadvertently flew into the top left corner to cap a humiliating outing for Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta said Mauricio Pochettino was “like a father” to him in his early playing days ahead of their meeting in Arsenal’s clash against Chelsea in the Premier League.

Arteta played alongside the Chelsea boss at Paris St Germain before their rise as coaches in Europe’s top divisions.

The Arsenal manager talked up the influence Pochettino had on him as a player, admitting he was inspired by the Argentinian as a teenager.

The pair will face off at the Emirates on Tuesday.

When asked how influential Pochettino was for Arteta as a player, he said: “He’s one of the most.

“I was 17 or 18 in Paris with no experience in professional football. He doesn’t like me saying it but to me he was like a father, he took me under his arm, he gave me incredible advice and protected me, he inspired me and I learned so much in our two years together.”

Arteta’s top-of-the-table Gunners have come a long way since he took over in 2019.

They sit one point ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand, and lead Liverpool on goal difference as they continue their bid for Premier League glory with five games remaining.

Arteta sought the opinion of Pochettino before leaving Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s assistant to become manager of the north London side.

“When I had to make a decision I asked him and explained the situation and he gave me some advice and he was needed,” Arteta added.

“I admire what he’s done in his career and he’s someone I’ve looked to because he was impactful to me in the most important stage of my career. As a role model I can’t pick anyone better.

“He doesn’t need to help me about tactics. The best influence he has had on me is the way he speaks about his life, his professionalism, his family and who he was as a figure in the dressing room and the passion and love he has for the game.

“That for me is the most important things which I learnt from him.”

A league title will be Arsenal’s first since 2003-04.

Arteta, whose side were dumped out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich last week, noted that there are further steps he wants his team to make in their development.

He said: “We need to see how we can make another step or two forward because that’s what this team is demanding to keep moving forward in a ruthless way because we’re not satisfied.

“You can see the team really wants it. We will try to be as fresh as possible but I think we can cope with that.”

Mauricio Pochettino believes it is unfair to compare the impact of Enzo Fernandez at Chelsea to that of Arsenal’s Declan Rice, as the teams prepare to face each other at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

England international Rice joined Mikel Arteta’s side from West Ham last summer for £100million, less than the £107m it cost to take World Cup winner Fernandez from Benfica to Stamford Bridge in January 2023.

The fee for the Argentinian was a British record at the time, though the club have since surpassed it in signing fellow midfielder Moises Caicedo from Brighton for £115m.

Rice has won plaudits for his transformational effect on Arsenal’s midfield, helping to forge a sturdier, more cohesive side than the one that fell away in the final weeks of last season’s Premier League title race.

By contrast, Chelsea’s league position has not markedly improved in the 15 months since Fernandez arrived in west London, and despite clear flashes of his obvious talent and range of passing, question marks have remained over whether the club got value for money.

However, his countryman Pochettino called for perspective on the obstacles that his player has had to contend with since arriving in England.

“Declan Rice was playing for West Ham, an English guy who knows the Premier League, knows the language,” said the 52-year-old.

“For Enzo, after the World Cup to arrive here, in a team that was inconsistent, difficult to get positive results, always it was really difficult.

“In summer he was involved in too many games and he arrived late in pre-season, hasn’t had a holiday in the last two years.

“Too many negative things happened. (It was) difficult for him to adapt, his family. It’s not easy to adapt and perform so quick.”

Fernandez was responsible for creating Chelsea’s best chance of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, hitting an incisive, raking pass from deep that sent Nicolas Jackson through on goal, but the striker could not finish.

He has scored three Premier League goals and made four assists since moving from Portugal in the immediate aftermath of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup triumph, but Pochettino insisted the best is yet to come from the 23-year-old.

“For sure he is going to be much better next season, after the experience of the whole season in this squad and this team,” he said.

“He’s more experienced, he gets better feelings. The whole season is good for him to learn. Even if he is a world champion, he needs to adapt to the Premier League and to this club. For me, there is no doubt that he is going to be much better.”

Pochettino said there have been no discussions over the future of striker Romelu Lukaku, currently on a season-long loan at Roma, but appeared to hint that the door could be open for a return.

The 30-year-old has scored 18 goals for the Serie A side this campaign after telling Chelsea last summer that he wanted to leave.

“He’s a Chelsea player, so for sure we will pay attention,” said Pochettino. “It’s an option. But still we did not take any decision.”

Chelsea have threatened to bring criminal charges against anyone found to have racially abused Nicolas Jackson in the aftermath of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City.

The 22-year-old striker missed a number of chances at Wembley as his side bowed out of the cup with a 1-0 defeat and was subsequently the target of abuse on social media.

The racist comments were left on an Instagram post he had made following last week’s victory over Everton, in which he scored his 10th goal of the season.

In a statement, the club said: “Chelsea Football Club is disgusted by the racial abuse directed towards Nicolas Jackson via social media, following Saturday evening’s game.

“There is no place in society for any form of discrimination and we operate a zero-tolerance approach to any incident of this nature.

“The club will support any criminal prosecutions and take the strongest possible action, including bans, against any individual who is found to be a season ticket holder or member.”

Defending the Senegal international’s record during his debut season – since signing for Chelsea from Villarreal – manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “Jackson is doing fantastic and he will always have my support.

“He’s doing an amazing job for the team: running, scoring, assists.

“It’s not easy in the first season. Nicolas fights for the club and he will be better next season, no doubts.”

Cole Palmer is a doubt for Chelsea’s visit to Arsenal on Tuesday with Mauricio Pochettino confirming the Premier League’s joint-top scorer is likely to miss the game at the Emirates Stadium with illness.

The 21-year-old did not train on Monday following his side’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, a loss that left them needing to secure a top-seven finish in the league if they are to end their year-long absence from European competition.

The England international has been the standout player of an indifferent season for Chelsea, with seven goals in the team’s last two home games having rocketed him to the top of the scoring charts alongside City striker Erling Haaland.

He has frequently been the decisive factor when the team have performed well, helping Pochettino’s side throw off the creative inertia that blunted their attack last season and in the early weeks of the current campaign.

A win against Mikel Arteta’s title-chasers would put the Argentinian’s side level on points with sixth-placed Newcastle, with a top-six finish likely to be enough for a Europa League berth.

However, the size of their task – already a daunting one with Arsenal on a run of 11 league wins in their last 13 – grew on Monday with the fear that Palmer will likely miss out, while full-backs Ben Chilwell and Malo Gusto are also doubts.

“We need to assess (Tuesday) morning,” said Pochettino of Palmer’s chances. “Today, no, I don’t believe he can be involved. Even if he will be good tomorrow, he may not be in a condition to play.

“With and without him, we believe that we can win. The most important thing is the collective. Of course he’s an important part of the team. He’s doing fantastic for us. But we have plenty of players that can perform and do the job.”

Pochettino defended the contributions of striker Nicolas Jackson on his debut season for the club, after he missed multiple opportunities against City to put Chelsea in the final.

The 22-year-old has improved significantly in recent weeks after struggling in the aftermath of his £32million summer move from Villarreal but three times at Wembley he failed to make the most of clear openings.

Pochettino has been forced to rely on the player – who has scored 10 goals in the league – far more than the club had intended, with fellow signing Christopher Nkunku having been limited by injury to a handful of appearances since joining from RB Leipzig.

“First season is always difficult but more when you are a striker and you have to perform and score goals. Everyone expects with every single touch to score,” Pochettino added. “He’s our main striker, the only striker we have fit.

“He’s doing fantastic. He’s doing an amazing job for the team; running, scoring goals, giving assists. His first season, a young guy, came in from Spain, even with not too much experience there.

“If we want the player to match the iconic players here, if we compare him with Drogba, obviously he’s going to lose.

“But he’s going to have all my support. Even if he doesn’t score, the way that he’s fighting for the club and his team-mates, he’s producing chances. He needs time to improve. He’ll be better next season for sure, no doubt about that.”

Bernardo Silva admitted he had been through a range of emotions after bouncing back from his European penalty heartache with an FA Cup semi-final winner.

The Portugal midfielder scored Manchester City’s late clincher as the holders ground out a hard-fought 1-0 win over Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday to book a return to the final.

It came less than three days after he had badly fluffed his lines with a poor spot-kick as City were agonisingly knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid in a draining encounter on Wednesday.

Silva released a lot of emotion in a vigorous celebration after his 84th-minute strike and he revealed that was culmination of a lot of factors.

He said: “After a very frustrating week for all of us it’s good to get back on the winning side and qualify for another final and another chance to win a trophy. We’re happy.

“Wednesday was a frustrating night for me. It was tough. First night, I didn’t sleep much. Second night, you sleep a bit better, the third night you sleep almost the whole night.

“It is what it is. It’s football, it’s our profession and we have to deal with those emotions.

“The way this team reacts is always really good. Once again we showed character and that no matter what happens, we stick together and go for it.”

Silva – one of two City players to miss in the shootout loss along with Mateo Kovacic – was embarrassed as he chipped tamely into the hands of Real goalkeeper Andriy Lunin from the spot.

He said that he had seen Lunin move early for the previous penalty, taken by Julian Alvarez, and felt striking down the middle would be a good idea.

Silva said: “I was waiting, I wanted to be the second or the third penalty to see the reaction from the keeper in the first or the first two penalties.

“And he moved early, that’s why I thought the middle was good because in moments of pressure the keepers, 99 per cent of the time, they move. But he chose not to move and fair play to him, well done.”

Silva denied a theory that the delay to his penalty, caused by the ball needing to be retrieved from the crowd, had affected him mentally.

He said: “For me, no. My decision was made. I was going shoot the penalty in the middle.”

City showed the resolve of champions to hang in and edge out Chelsea, who dominated the tie at Wembley.

The Londoners were left to rue wasting a host of chances, with misfiring striker Nicolas Jackson the prime culprit. They were also frustrated not to be awarded a penalty after a Cole Palmer free-kick struck the arm of Jack Grealish.

Veteran defender Thiago Silva said: “I think it’s laughable. I don’t like to talk about the referees, especially after a defeat as it looks like an excuse, but I believe VAR could have sent the ref to the monitor.

“If he goes to the monitor and decides not to give a pen, I’m fine with it, but go and see it.”

Silva, 39, is out of contract at the end of the season and promised to reveal his future plans soon.

The Brazilian said: “You are going to know in the coming days. I don’t want to say anything now after a defeat, I’m sad about the result, but sooner or later the news will come out.

“I do have a decision made in my mind, but it’s not the moment to share it.”

Pep Guardiola admitted it was “unacceptable” that Manchester City’s 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea was scheduled for less than 72 hours after their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

City recovered from their European exit on Wednesday night – when they played extra-time against Real before losing on penalties – to edge past Mauricio Pochettino’s side, thanks to a goal in the 84th minute from Bernardo Silva, but they were clearly fatigued at Wembley.

Chelsea had more than enough chances to settle the semi-final in their favour but, as was the case on their last visit here against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, wasteful finishing was their downfall, with Nicolas Jackson the primary culprit.

Yet despite seeing his side reach their third FA Cup final in six seasons, Guardiola’s thoughts were dominated by what he considered to be poor scheduling of the match by the Football Association.

“I don’t understand how we survived today,” he said. “People cannot imagine what a punch in the face to be out of the Champions League in the way we are out.

“Why not give us one more day to arrive on Sunday because Coventry and (Manchester) United didn’t play in midweek? For broadcasters?

“OK. Don’t ask me after to do extra (media duties) because we won’t do it. It’s unacceptable to play today.

“What (the players) have done today is one of the greatest things I have seen from a group of players – 120 minutes against Real, you can prepare absolutely nothing.

“Four hours to arrive here and play the game in these conditions. I don’t understand how we survived.”

Three times 22-year-old Jackson had gilt-edged chances to put his team through to the final but each time he was foiled, most glaringly when he headed straight at goalkeeper Stefan Ortega from close range midway through the second half.

Unable to capitalise on their openings, Chelsea tired as the game wore into its final 10 minutes and they were hit with the winning goal for City, six minutes from time.

Jeremy Doku slipped a pass through for Kevin De Bruyne bursting forward down the left of the penalty area and – after running it to the byline – he pulled the ball back centrally.

Djordje Petrovic got a foot to it but could not prevent it from reaching Silva, whose first-time effort at the back post pinged off Marc Cucurella as he dived in to block and span beyond the goalkeeper to win it.

City will play either Manchester United or Coventry in the final on May 25 as they look to retain the trophy they won last season.

Guardiola was pessimistic about the demands made on his players by an increasingly-congested schedule being lessened in the future and criticised what he considered an inflexible approach from competition organisers.

“In this country, they don’t change anything,” he said. “If I pretend it will change next season, it won’t happen. But don’t ask me to make meetings. I’m busy. I have to prepare games every three days.

“It’s unsustainable. We have to perform for the fans, for the prestige of the club. How? I just want to protect my players.

“I don’t have to run. I do this for the players. It is unacceptable.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino reflected on a game that, despite their chances, he felt his side had not done enough to win.

“The most important thing is to be clinical and not concede,” he said. “Even if today we competed well, I cannot say we were the better side.”

Bernardo Silva made amends for his midweek penalty miss as holders Manchester City returned to the FA Cup final with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Chelsea.

Silva badly fluffed his lines as City were agonisingly knocked out of the Champions League on penalties by Real Madrid on Wednesday but he was the match winner as they bounced back at Wembley.

The Portugal international turned home the only goal of a tight encounter six minutes from time to keep alive City’s hopes of retaining the domestic double.

Chelsea were left to rue wasting a host of chances, with Nicolas Jackson particularly culpable, on what proved a bad day for the Senegal forward in front of goal. The Londoners were also frustrated not to be awarded a penalty.

City, without the injured Erling Haaland, were not at their best – perhaps still feeling the effects of their draining encounter with Real.

With former City midfielder Cole Palmer instrumental, Chelsea made most of the running.

Palmer played in Jackson early on but his shot was too easy for Stefan Ortega.

City’s first opportunity came as Kevin De Bruyne slipped in Phil Foden with an inch-perfect pass but he went too wide attempting to go round Djordje Petrovic and Chelsea escaped.

Pep Guardiola’s side had a huge let-off when Jackson raced clear from an Enzo Fernandez long ball. Jackson only had Ortega to beat but he hesitated on the edge of the area and failed to shoot or go round the goalkeeper.

City were caught out again when Malo Gusto escaped down the right but he could not pick out Jackson in the centre. Palmer also dug out a chance for himself with some neat footwork but did not get any power on his shot.

At the other end, Marc Cucurella cleared off the line after Silva got on the end of a Jack Grealish cross but the flag was then raised.

Jackson failed to deliver again early in the second half after breaking clear in the area but shooting tamely at Ortega. The ball came back to him as Palmer whipped in a cross but his header was weak and straight at Ortega.

City had another let-off when a Palmer free-kick struck the arm of Grealish. The contact was missed by referee Michael Oliver, with Chelsea’s frustration at not getting a penalty compounded by the official awarding a goalkick.

Jackson also wanted a spot-kick after going down following a race with Kyle Walker but nothing was given.

Grealish suffered a heavy blow to the knee in a challenge from Felipe Caicedo and was withdrawn moments later. The England international voiced his frustration to the officials as he left the field, maybe suggesting Caicedo – already on a booking – should have been dealt with more severely.

Grealish’s replacement Jeremy Doku made a lively entrance and immediately tested Petrovic.

As time wore on, the game became a test of City’s resolve and the lively Doku made a notable difference.

He was involved as the deadlock was finally broken, playing in fellow Belgian De Bruyne with a clever ball. De Bruyne pulled the ball back across goal and a deflection took it into the path of Silva, who made no mistake.

It was a sweet moment for the Portuguese, who celebrated vigorously out of relief and joy.

There was no way back for Chelsea as City, befitting their champion status, held out.

On this day in 2018, Arsene Wenger announced he would step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season after almost 22 years in the role.

Appointed in September 1996, the Frenchman had presided over a glittering period in the club’s history which yielded three Premier League titles, the last of them famously secured by his “Invincibles”, who went through the 2003-04 league campaign unbeaten.

In addition, former Nancy, Monaco and Grampus Eight boss Wenger guided the club to FA Cup glory on seven occasions and secured 20 successive seasons of Champions League football during a reign spanning 1,235 matches, 828 of them in the top flight.

However, his announcement came amid mounting disquiet over the club’s showing in both the Premier League and Europe, with three FA Cup successes in four years failing to placate his critics.

Wenger said: “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season.

“I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.”

Majority owner Stan Kroenke paid tribute to the man who had gone toe-to-toe with Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson and Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho.

Kroenke said: “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport.

“One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch.

“His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him.”

Wenger, described by Ferguson as “without doubt one of the greatest Premier League managers” and by former Gunners skipper Tony Adams as “the greatest Arsenal manager”, bowed out after a 1-0 final-day victory at Huddersfield on May 13, 2018.

The 68-year-old said afterwards: “I feel that I got a lot of respect not only from our fans, but from England. I would reiterate I loved English football, but I also learned to love England. You do not stay 22 years if you don’t like it.”

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