FA Cup final XI
Inside Blue Fri 18 May 2018
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Wembley Stadium, we select a team of Blues who have excelled in previous FA Cup finals.
Our game against Manchester United will be the 13th time we have contested the decisive match in the world’s oldest club competition, with Chelsea lifting the trophy seven times so far.
In those victorious finals we have had more than our fair share of heroes, but who merits selection for our FA Cup final XI?
Petr Cech gets the nod in goal. Aside from winning the trophy four times, Cech deserves his place for one moment alone – that incredible save from Andy Carroll to ensure we held on to our 2-1 lead over Liverpool in 2012. An honourable mention to Peter Bonetti, though, who battled on gamely while injured to help us beat Leeds in 1970.
Ron Harris and Paulo Ferreira are vying for the right-back spot. The latter might seem a left-field choice, but he did such an effective job of man-marking Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United's star man, out of the 2007 final that he fully merits a mention. However, he just misses out to Chopper, the first captain to lift the trophy for Chelsea. And just ask Eddie Gray how effective Harris' man-marking job was on him...
David Webb is in at centre-back, but not for his defensive efforts in the 1970 final. Webb, of course, scored the winning goal in extra time of the replay to ensure the Blues won the FA Cup for the first time.
Lining up alongside him is John Terry, who was on the bench when we won it in 2000 and then skippered us to four more triumphs in the competition, including in 2010 as part of our first-ever domestic Double.
Although it is hard to recall Ashley Cole standing out in an FA Cup final, he also never put a foot wrong in one – and how can you argue against seven winner's medals, which is more than any other player in the history of the game? For that reason alone, he gets in at left-back.
There are a fair few contenders to get in our midfield. Roberto Di Matteo's name is one of the first on the team sheet for his winning goals in 1997 and 2000 – the first was the fastest scored in an FA Cup final at the time and an absolute worldie, too – as well as managing us to the trophy in 2012.
Eddie Newton, our other scorer in 1997 and Di Matteo's assistant 15 years later, also merits selection as his was a true tale of redemption. Having conceded a penalty in our loss to Man United in the 1994 final, he popped up at the end of our win over Middlesbrough to put the icing on the cake. And he's a proper Chelsea boy.
We can't possibly overlook Frank Lampard, scorer of an absolute screamer to beat Everton in 2009, as well as supplying the pass for the winner in 2007. There can't be many all-time Chelsea XIs that Frank wouldn't make.
Peter Houseman, for scoring in our 2-2 draw with Leeds in 1970, and Charlie Cooke, crafter of one of the finest FA Cup final goals of all time, both warrant a mention, but in the end we settled for Ramires. In scoring against Liverpool in 2012, he became the first Brazilian to net in an FA Cup final.
Up front, you already knew Didier Drogba was going to be selected. Four FA Cup final goals, three of which were winners, and his brilliant effort in 2007 beat Man United in the first to be held at the new Wembley Stadium. When it came to the big games, there were few better.
Peter Osgood fell into the same category – the bigger the stage, the better he performed. His diving header in the 1970 replay, laid on by a beautiful ball by Cooke, was a moment that helped spawn a generation of Chelsea fans. He wasn't known as the King of Stamford Bridge for nothing.