x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cup specialists Chelsea will take all roads to Wembley

Despite reviving the Premier League campaign, Ancelotti targets two finals at their favourite stadium – the FA Cup and the Champions League.

LONDON // All roads could still lead to Wembley this season for Chelsea.

Despite last week's 4-0 win at Bolton Wanderers reviving their Premier League title chances, Chelsea's best hope of silverware lies in the FA Cup and the Champions League - with both finals scheduled for Wembley.

The headquarters of English football has been a happy hunting ground for Chelsea.

They lifted the trophy in the last final to be held at the old stadium when they defeated Aston Villa in 2000 and were the first winners when the venue reopened in 2007, beating Manchester United.

They have appeared in two of the three finals since - beating today's fourth round opponents Everton in 2009 and Portsmouth last season.

The FA Cup has offered Carlo Ancelotti, the manager, some salvation this season and the 7-0 thumping of Ipswich in the previous round could well turn out to be the result that kick-started their revival.

"It was a good game against Ipswich, above all because we scored seven goals and it gave us more confidence to play against Blackburn and Bolton," Ancelotti said.

"It got us back out of a bad period. I know very well how special the FA Cup is to the fans.

"It is a trophy we want to go for again.

"The club has a good experience of Wembley. It is special place. We went go there again. Hopefully not once but twice."

The most encouraging aspect of Chelsea's recent revival has been the return to form of Didier Drogba. The Ivory Coast striker has recovered from illness and looked back to his menacing best on Monday night when he opened the scoring against Bolton with a thumping long-range goal.

"I think Didier is over the malaria he has been suffering from," John Terry, the captain, said.

"I have never had it myself but speaking to people and the doctor here, it does knock you for six.

"Fair play to him, he could have taken two months out but he never did, he wanted to keep on fighting for the team.

"He knew we were lacking in options in the whole squad and he wanted to put his body on the line for the club. We really appreciate that.

"He has taken a bit of stick as we all have over the past few months but we have stayed together. We know that he is capable of goals like that, and many more. We are just encouraging him to shoot more and get the ball out of his feet.

"Our confidence, not just his, will get a lift and we'll crack on. I think we all looked more like our old selves in the win against Bolton."

Ancelotti accepted one of the reasons for Chelsea's dramatic dip in form has been Drogba's lack of form and fitness.

"At Bolton finally Didier Drogba played a fantastic match," the manager said.

"Not only did he score a fantastic goal but did so much for the team.

"His power and personality are very important for this team. It is crucial that he came back fit and dangerous."

David Moyes, the Everton manager, is hoping home advantage proves decisive for his side who last won the competition in 1995.

"It's a tough draw for us because Chelsea have got a great record in cups, especially the FA Cup, so we know what we're up against," Moyes said. "But we're at home and we'll try and use that to our advantage."

Ancelotti knows his side face a tough assignment at Goodison Park.

"It will be a tough game at Everton but we showed in the win at Bolton we have our tough character back," the Italian said.

 

sports@thenational.ae

Torres latest and Premier League transfer news, s13