Venue: Wembley Stadium
Date: Saturday, 5 May
Kick-off: 1715 BST
So, it’s here then. The first of this season’s cup finals for us, and today sees us take on the victims Liverpool in the FA Cup. And whilst Roberto Di Matteo will no doubt look like he’s just stepped out of an Armani shop window, his scouse counterpart will have undoubtedly borrowed a shellsuit from some vagrant down the road.
Our Italian (interim) manager has always been a class above though to be fair, something he’s demonstrated in this very competition. Back in 1997, he scored the fastest goal in the final at the old Wembley (43 seconds), following it up with the last ever FA Cup goal to be scored at the same stadium in 2000 against Villa. Whether he’ll make any records in his first as a manager, I guess we’ll know by the end of the day.
Liverpool meanwhile, travel back to the place they lovingly refer to as ‘Anfield South’, having this season won their first cup there in half their latest bandwagon hoppers’ lifetimes. Bless them!
Going into his first cup final as a manager, the very grounded Roberto Di Matteo says “It is important we keep going. We want to win the FA Cup, and the Champions League, and although we have done well to get to the finals, we have not won anything yet.”
Kenny Dalglish meanwhile is quite clear of the glory that lies ahead of his mid-table Liverpool side, saying “There is an obsession with the Premier League simply because of what it holds for every club and the value financially, but there is a satisfaction from winning a cup competition which you don’t get from finishing fifth or sixth.”
For Chelsea, David Luiz and Gary Cahill (both hamstring) remain out although Di Matteo has no other injury concerns.
For Liverpool, Leiva and Charlie Adam are their only injury concerns and after fielding a weakened side midweek in the league they don’t particularly care about, their ‘big guns’ return in the form of Saint Stevie, Bugs Bunny Luis Suarez, Jose Reina, Craig Bellamy and Daniel Agger.
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Bosingwa, Terry, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Essien, Meireles, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Malouda, Drogba, Torres, Sturridge, Kalou, Turnbull.
LIVERPOOL (from): Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Spearing, Gerrard, Downing, Bellamy, Carroll, Suarez, Doni, Kelly, Coates, Flanagan, Robinson, Enrique, Henderson, Rodriguez, Shelvey, Kuyt.
So, we go into today’s game hoping to lift the trophy for the fourth time in six years, and the seventh in our history, whilst Liverpool are competing in their 14th FA Cup final and a win would see their eighth time FA Cup.
It’s our tenth meeting in the FA Cup but our first in the final, so there’s not much to compare this to although on the down side, they’ve already beaten us twice this season. Add to that Kenny’s won them this cup twice before as a manager…..and (particularly after our poor showing against Newcastle), we shouldn’t be too complacent even against this mid-table outfit.