It’s Cup Final Day. I’ve always loved Cup final day, it always gives me a bit of a tingly feeling, even though this is only the second time that Everton have been involved in it in my twenty years of life so far. It is just so steeped in tradition, it’s the oldest competition in football, and it’s just so iconic. Winning the FA Cup is a big thing, and even though people have talked about it being devalued in recent years, that’s rubbish. The whole world will watch the Cup Final, and that means something.
I’d intended on writing a proper, full prediction for the game today, in a similar vein to my Semi-Final previews, but to be honest, I don’t think I could. I’m just so hyped up, there’s no way I could write objectively because there’s no way on today of all days, that I can suppress my massive desire for Everton to win the Cup. I was six years old last time we were in this position, and yet that still stands as my greatest footballing memory.
And I think we stand a good chance. The stats are certainly against us, having not beaten Chelsea for something like twenty two years, but in recent years we’ve been getting very close. My dad, brother and I are always saying when we’re playing Chelsea that this time the luck will be with us and we’ll finally beat them, and god I hope that we’re right today.
Both league meetings this season have finished 0-0, and with the FA Cup Final often a tense and nervy affair I don’t think the match will be a classic. I think we will frustrate Chelsea, our defensive record in the latter half of the season has been phenomenal and though we’ll miss Jagielka, Lescott and Yobo are still one of the best central defensive partnerships in the Premier League.
That said, Chelsea are a club that benefits from having an enormous squad and thus a wealth of attacking talent. Anelka was the top scorer in the Premier League this season, and whil Drogba blows hot and cold the biggest threat may indded come from the revitalised Malouda, who has shone under Hiddink. Plus, Lampard seems to enjoy scoring against us, so it’s going to be a big ask from every man in a blue shirt (Chelsea are in Yellow) to keep them out.
Going forward though, I’m quietly confident. Chelsea’s defence overall this season hasn’t been as solid as it usually is, and with Pienaar arguably the form play in the entire league over the past few weeks, and Osman notching 2 last week against Fulham, we certainly have players in the mood.
And Chelsea have been known to be susceptible to a good set piece, and in Tim Cahill and Marauone Fellaini we have arguably two of the most deadly men to attack set pieces, though I dearly wish we had Arteta fit to whip the free kicks in. Up front is perhaps our main concern with Yakubu still out injured, the gauntlet drops mostly to Saha as Jo is cup-tied, though young James Vaughan will hope to get chance to make a splash from the bench.
Fitness wise I think we have a full squad to choose from, except for our long term absentees and with a relatively gentle and easy win against Fulham last week, Moyes will be confident his men have what it takes to work furiously for 90 minutes, and even for 120 minutes if they have to. Indeed should it come to penalties it will be just as tight, as Howard and Cech have both shown that they can save them in recent times.
I’m confident though. I don’t think I could even contemplate us losing if I wanted to though. That’s not to say I don’t respect Chelsea though, I fully acknowledge that we are the underdogs and that if they play as well as we know they can they could be unplayable. But I think Everton will be incredibly up for this game, and when we’re in the mood, we can really stop a team from playing, as we’ve shown already this season.
I think the mentality in both camps is really healthy. The Chelsea players clearly love Hiddink and will want to give him a victorious send off but similarly, the Everton camp is incredibly tight nit. They all know that Moyes is building towards big things for the club, and that this could be the start of it. A trophy here would give them a taste of success and provide a great platform to push on from. Moyes has established us as a top six side, now we need a step up again, and that means trophies.
Ultimately, I can’t make a prediction for this game. I can see it going all the way to penalties, but I can also see it being nicked in normal time. I think Everton will win, but that is very probably just the incredibly loud opinion of my heart. Either way, I’m content with that. I hope to hell we can beat them. I’d love to beat them well too but I’m realistic enough to doubt that. All I can think really is “it’s Cup Final day and Everton are there!” and because I can’t think of anything more constructive to say I’ll leave it there. I hope you enjoy the game, and I hope you’re behind the Toffees! Come on you mighty blues.