The last dance of the season, of every season, the FA Cup Final is the jewel in the English Football Crown. Last year’s final between Cardiff and Portsmouth was arguably the exception, but this year’s certainly isn’t:
Underdogs Everton come into the final for the first time in 14 years, since Joe Royle’s infamous ‘dogs of war’ – led by the terrifying Duncan Ferguson – beat Manchester United in a final that was described by many as “rubbish”. This is David Moyes’ first appearance in an English FA Cup Final, as either a player or manger, but with the experienced Phil Neville leading the side, there is no shortage of big match experience. Neville himself is going for his fourth FA Cup triumph, after wins in 1996, 1999 and 2004 with Manchester United. A crucial penalty in the semi final against his former club, he says, was the first time that he really “felt like an Everton player” despite being captain for two years. Hmmm. Unfortunately, talented centre half Phil Jagielka misses out on the Wembley showpiece with a knee injury sustained in a game against Manchester City on 25th April. Nigerian Joseph Yobo is likely to take his place in the back four.
Favourites Chelsea bid a fond farewell to Guus Hiddink on Saturday, after the dutchman guided the Blues to third position in the league and a European Cup semi final, as well as tomorrow’s FA Cup Final. Midfield maestro Frank Lampard has been passed fit to play as Chelsea are bidding to add to their FA Cup haul of four, the last of those being in 2007, where a Didier Drogba goal in extra time saw off league champions Manchester United. Like Moyes, this is Hiddink’s first taste of an English FA Cup Final, but as a European Cup winner with PSV in 1988, he is no stranger to success and the battle of wits between the Scot and the Dutchman could be where this game could be decided.
You better add this to your favourites before you go to bed because it’s an early start American viewers, so bring your coffee and join me at around 9.30 EDT (2.30pm GMT, so not that early my fellow Brits) for this season’s denouement. Should be a good one. Maybe. Click Here for the live blog.
Editor’s Note: During the FA Cup Final live blog/chat experience on EPL Talk today, host Michael Scallon will be awarding an official EPL Talk T-Shirt to one lucky winner. Log in to find out how to win.