Firstly, I’d like to mention the fantastic job that Frank Lampard has done in guiding Chelsea to a top-four finish in the league and, of course, the prize that goes with that, a place in next season’s Champions League.
Considering he started without the option of adding to the squad he inherited, he has surprised many, especially those who doubted the ability of the former Chelsea midfielder to live up to the expectations that come with the role to which he was appointed.
Not only has he silenced the doubters but he has also confounded many by way of trusting players who have come through the ranks of the Chelsea Academy rather than relying on a team made up of older, more experienced players in the way that several of his predecessors have done.
He has managed to find a good, solid mix of youth and experience, a combination that the Chelsea support has not only enjoyed but also appreciates.
As someone who has always believed in his ability and dedication to the task, I’m extremely pleased that he has been able to reach the target he set himself for his first year in charge.
And so to Saturday’s game at Wembley.
In the last decade or so, the global interest in English top-flight football has grown beyond all expectations. Chelsea can claim to have interested observers from every continent and probably in every country in the world, save one or two.
However, judging by some who propagate their (quite often worthless) opinions on social media, it appears that many who hail from foreign shores fail to realise the significance of the FA Cup and look upon it as a ‘second class’ honour when compared to winning the league or, quite sadly, even qualifying for the Champions League.
Nevertheless, for those who ‘really know their Chelsea’, the FA Cup will always hold a special place in their hearts.
Although Chelsea supporters thoroughly enjoyed watching their side beat Arsenal in last season’s Europa League Final in Baku, many will be hopeful that they witness a reversal of fortunes as far as playing the North London team in the world’s oldest cup competition is concerned.
This will be the third meeting of the two sides in an FA Cup Final. The first was in 2002 in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium where Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea were beaten 2-0. It was Frank Lampard’s first final in Chelsea colours.
Then, in 2017 and with the prospect of completing their second domestic Double, Chelsea’s chances of achieving the feat were severely hamstrung as early as the fifth minute when some exceedingly poor officiating allowed Arsenal to score after a clear handball led to their first goal. Despite an equaliser scored by Diego Costa with 15 minutes remaining, Wenger’s men regained the lead two minutes later and went on to win the game 2-1.
As will be the case for many other Chelsea supporters, Saturday’s final will be the first I have not attended since 1994.
After cheering Chelsea on in 21 assorted major cup finals plus the World Club Championship and European Super Cups, it will be a strange feeling for myself and my fellow Fulham Road supporters to know that The Blues are playing for the right to lift a trophy and we won’t be in attendance.
Nonetheless, I’ll be hoping that the likes of Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and those chosen to represent Chelsea do themselves, Frank Lampard and all the Chelsea supporters who would have been at Wembley proud by winning the FA Cup.
Win or lose, Up Frank Lampard’s Blues!
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