FA Cup final: Chelsea v Everton
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Date: Sat, 30 May
Ok we’ve got the Premier League out of the way for another year, albeit a year we saw ourselves slip to a third placed finish. We’ve also got the Champions League over and done with and got an impromptu rest this time round thanks to some confusing officialdom. So, we really are down to the very last game in the 2008/09 season and it’s the FA Cup final.
In Everton, we’re up against a side with a much richer history than ours (which as we’re told often enough isn’t hard) although in recent years, we’ve clearly enjoyed the better success.
Mind you, when it comes to managers, that’s where Everton are more consistent than us because whilst David Moyes has been at Goodison for the past 7 years, our managers struggle to hang around for a full season these days. So, what can we expect from the men in charge?
Before Chelsea, Hiddink had already been there and done it domestically, in Europe and Internationally. Chelsea were in a right mess when he took over from Scolari and in the space of just three months, we’ve got automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League – narrowly missing out on this year’s final – and made it into this year’s FA Cup final. Not only that but we look like we want it again.
As for Moyes, he hasn’t twice been named LMA Manager of the year for no reason, he’s done a great job at Everton with a much smaller budget than Chelsea managers are used to. His players have no less belief in themselves than Chelsea’s and they work hard. Having said that, despite getting the Toffees into the Champions League in 2005, Moyes hasn’t translated the good work he’s done into trophies.
Didier Drogba vs Joleon Lescott
The Chelsea striker was in some of his poorest form ever before Hiddink arrived but has been pretty close to his nightmare-for-defenders best towards the end of the season. He might have been a bit sheepish after his Champions League outburst but with the roles allegedly reversed and Chelsea now rumoured to be ready for Drogba’s departure, the Ivorian will be wanting to give them a reason to change their minds. So, depending on which Didier Drogba turns up on the day, Joleon Lescott, without the support of Jagielka for this one, could be in for a tough time of it – or not.
Florent Malouda vs Leighton Baines
Again, another battle that’s hard to call depending on which version of Florent Malouda turns up. For the most part this season, the Frenchman was irritatingly average in the extreme and yet the turnaround in his performance under Hiddink has been pretty impressive. Meanwhile, over at Everton, Baines has been showing every bit as much improvement this season and if they’re both on form for this game it’s hard to call which one will come out on top.
Michael Essien vs Tim Cahill
Chelsea looked a better side almost from the second Essien returned from a lengthy spell out injured this season, such is his importance in the side but Cahill is no less vital to Everton. Like Essien, he’s not shy of a physical battle and his movement is a real danger at set-pieces. Both players with the ability to cause problems on the attack so maybe their defensive qualities could decide this battle?
Ok, ok, so TheChelseaBlog is renowned for bottling out of predictions and no habits of a lifetime are going to be broken for this game but let’s just say Chelsea vs Everton games have a nasty habit of throwing up draws, so if it goes to penalties, I’ll be the one with their hands over their eyes!