After scoring the goal that sealed our FA Cup semi-final victory over Crystal Palace, Mason Mount reflected on his purple patch of goalscoring form, the contribution of his team-mates who teed up and netted, as well as the prospect of Liverpool again in next month’s final.
It was a tight and cagey London derby at Wembley as the Eagles defended resolutely with men behind the ball and restricted us to limited opportunities before the break. Yet Ruben Loftus-Cheek broke the deadlock with a fine strike into the top corner after the restart before Mount doubled our advantage 11 minutes later.
The midfielder produced an accomplished finish himself, exchanging passes with Timo Werner before opening his body to steer the ball low into the bottom corner beyond the despairing dive of Palace keeper Jack Butland.
It was Mount’s fourth goal in the past three games and his 12th of the campaign, the best return of his career.
‘It's a game that we needed to bounce back,’ he said, reflecting on our response from the disappointment of the midweek Champions League exit. ‘Any time you play at Wembley, it’s a special occasion. I can’t remember the last time I scored here but I think it was quite a while ago.
‘If you look at the game overall, it was very tight. I was speaking to [Palace’s former Blues defender] Marc Guehi afterwards and saying how well they played and how good they are as a team with top players.
‘They made it very difficult for us with the way they set up. They have a very good manager and we found it difficult. It took quite a long time for us to break them down. We didn’t have many chances until we scored, which opened the game up. They had to go forward a bit more, which left more gaps and then we got the second which was the game killed off.’
Werner was named Player of the Match by the Wembley Stadium PA and Mount had the German to thank for teeing up his latest goal. Our number 11 had a busy afternoon down the left and also set up Romelu Lukaku to strike the post late on.
‘He’s been brilliant since he came in at Southampton and then in Madrid,’ continued Mount. ‘You can see he’s full of energy. In the second half there was a moment where he missed a chance but then me and Jorginho were laughing on the bench because he sprinted all the way back to the halfway line and made a tackle.
‘That’s what we’re all about. He gives everything so I’m very pleased for him. He got me a little assist, could have had another one and he could have had a couple of goals as well. He’s done so well the past couple of games.’
Loftus-Cheek has also been in excellent form over the past few matches, charging up and down the right flank as wing-back at the Bernabeu before coming off the bench to turn the game at Wembley with perhaps his most decisive moment in a Chelsea shirt to date.
‘I’m absolutely buzzing for Rubes,’ said Mount. ‘He’s worked so hard to get back into the shape he is now and he’s a top player. He came on in a difficult game but stepped up and did well.
‘He’s a big, dominant player for us and the way he drives the ball forward really helps us move up the pitch. He was brilliant today when he came on.’
In an impressive individual season, this latest strike has taken Mount up to 25 goal involvements (11 goals, 14 assists) in all competitions, comfortably the most in the Chelsea squad and a pleasing return for the 23-year-old.
He attributes it to work on the training pitch and a dedication to self-improvement, never happy to rest on his laurels after reaching double figures for both goals scored and assists provided.
‘It's obviously been quite a productive season for me,’ he said. ‘At the start, it was something I really looked at because as a midfielder you want to be someone who gets goals and assists.
‘I’ve always wanted to be that threat and I’ve tried to do it as best I can. It’s started to come off a bit more this season but you always have those periods where you don’t score as well and I’ve had those this season too.
‘It’s been a good little period the last couple of games. I’ve just been trying to focus on getting in the box and trying to take my opportunities. I had a couple of shots today and they went miles over but then I had the one right at the end where it’s the best chance out of all of them. I’ve got to take it and I found the corner which is something I’ve been working on in training.’
Yet personal accolades only count for so much and there is one wrong that Mount is desperate to put right in the final weeks of the campaign – his missing FA Cup and a wretched record in finals at Wembley.
‘I haven’t had the best memories in finals at Wembley so to get to another one is an opportunity to make it right and to finally win one,’ he added. ‘I’ve always said that I want to win the big trophies and the FA Cup is one of the biggest.
‘We know it’s going to be a very hard game against Liverpool. We watched the game yesterday and we know what they bring but every time we play them there are fireworks so it’s a fairytale game. Of course we remember the last final we played and we have an opportunity to put that right now.
‘It’s definitely time for us to win a final at Wembley. For myself, it’s been five finals I’ve lost so now we have to put the pressure on ourselves to step up.’