Anyone who hints that Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure carried the box for Chelsea and Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals is unlikely to scoff at the room.
Instead, that statement will come with plenty of nods in agreement, due to their decisive quality when the chips were down.
The West London side and the Citizens return to Wembley Stadium this weekend knowing full well that another FA Cup title is within reach, although only one can claim the title.
While Thomas Tuchel’s side and City have been separated in the bottom four this time around, the fact that both sides got to this stage last season and were back around a year later goes some way to showing the interest that both teams have maintained in the sport’s oldest cup. competition since they became dominant forces in English football.
Drogba and Yaya played a big role in both clubs’ fans cherishing the later stages of the competition, with both sides winning five titles in total while the Ivorian icons represented the clubs.
For the retired centre-forward, there was overall the typical decision and end product in the back four.
Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool (2005/06)
Jose Mourinho’s Blues were favorites against Rafael Benitez’s Reds despite the bad blood between the two sides following a stormy and contentious Champions League semi-final the previous year.
Drogba halved the west London side’s deficit with 20 minutes to go but he could have put Chelsea ahead early but somehow missed the mark after coming one on one with Pepe Reina.
Joe Cole’s missed effort in the closing stages of the match almost forced the encounter at Old Trafford into extra time, but it wasn’t for the Blues who may have retained their league title but failed in the cup.
Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (2008/09)
Drogba was the match winner for the Blues as they secured a victory over their London rivals at Wembley.
The sniper ran over a ball from Frank Lampard before going past Lukasz Fabianski who had found himself in no man’s land outside his box before slotting the ball into an empty net.
The Ivorian’s strike six minutes from time sealed a 2-1 win for Gus Hiddink’s side as they lifted the club’s fifth FA Cup.
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa (2009/10)
While the result suggests Carlo Ancelotti’s side got things done, semi-final success against Villa was anything but simple.
A close game saw John Obi Mikel lucky not to concede a penalty in the first half after clumsily bringing down Gabriel Agbonlahor and a John Carew header early in the second narrowly missed the far post.
It was Drogba who scored a poaching effort to open the scoring in the 68th minute and it stayed that way before goals from Florent Malouda (89) and Lampard (90+5) added shine to the scoreline final.
Chelsea went on to claim the club’s first ever double with Drogba scoring a free-kick in the final against Portsmouth.
Chelsea 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur (2011/12)
Another success in the semi-finals for the Blues whose result may have flattered the West London side.
Drogba opened the scoring with a brilliant left-footed effort after spinning former Chelsea team-mate William Gallas.
However, Spurs could have been up front had it not been for John Terry’s goal-line interference and Emmanuel Adebayor failing to connect as Rafael van der Vaart’s cross hit the post.
Further goals from Juan Mata, Ramires, Lampard and Malouda saw Gareth Bale halve the deficit just before the hour mark and not move the needle as the Blues ran away with winners comfortable at the end.
Again, Drogba – despite being past his prime – was instrumental in the success against Spurs and the decider against Liverpool.
As for Yaya, it would be hard to find a more memorable semi-final moment than the 2011 encounter at the Home of Football.
Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United (2010/11)
Despite Wayne Rooney’s absence, the Red Devils entered the encounter as favorites to face Stoke City, but the ‘noisy neighbours’ had other ideas.
It was Yaya who took advantage of Michael Carrick’s error on the edge of the United box, passed Nemanja Vidic and brought the ball home to delight the Citizens supporters.
This strike was enough to win the match for the Manchester blues who played in their first FA Cup final since 1981.
Unsurprisingly, Yaya was the winner of the decisive 1-0 game against Stoke City, sealing the club’s first triumph in the competition since 1969.
Manchester City 1-2 Arsenal (2016/17)
Even though Yaya was no longer a first-choice choice when Pep Guardiola took charge of Man City, the Spaniard trusted the midfielder against the Gunners.
For a moment it looked like the Ivorian would also have the desired impact, winning the ball on the edge of City’s penalty area and freeing Sergio Aguero to open the scoring on the hour mark.
However, goals from Nacho Monreal and a winner from Alexis Sanchez in the first half of extra time saw the Gunners turn things around.
Pep’s troops may have felt unhappy to fall in defeat after seeing a goal disallowed as Yaya and Fernandinho hit the woodwork in the second half.
Granted, Drogba racked up more semi-final moments than his compatriot, but the significance of Manchester City’s victory over United in 2011 cannot be underestimated.
Back then, City didn’t enter every competition as favorites to win it like they do now, so claiming success over Sir Alex Ferguson’s side was colossal for the Citizens.
The historic victory over their city rivals sent them into a first final in a generation while the final victory ended 42 years of injury without claiming one of England’s prestigious awards.
Indeed, arguing against Yaya’s moment of brilliance in 2011 against a team they hate will take great effort. This is undoubtedly a non-debate.