FA Cup Final Preview

FA Cup Final Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 29, 2009
  • Chelsea, Everton, Geoff Reid

Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan.com each week. Today he returns to preview this weekend’s FA Cup final.

We’ve reached that time of the European season again and after this weekend it’ll all be over for another 2 months plus. The great thing about the game today is football is going on 12 months out of the year. Most leagues run from August to May, MLS being an exception going from March to November with internationals all in between with big tournaments each summer. For myself, who’s life revolves around the sport 24/7 it keeps me sane! And this time of year I’ve always looked forward to the final of the world’s oldest knockout competition: The FA Cup Final.

This year’s final looks a very intriguing matchup. One side like’s to play open, attacking football although under Guus Hiddink Chelsea look much more stabilized defensively and balanced compared to Luis Felipe Scolari. The other side is a lot more blue collar and hard working being Everton. David Moyes has built himself a very solid foundation with a good bunch of players that have been at Goodison Park for a long time now. Moyes understands that he can’t beat teams like Chelsea by playing better football then them, so what he has done is surround technically gifted players like Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill with workmen like players and it’s worked to a charm the last few years.

Team News: New Brunswick, New Jersey’s own Tim Howard will most likely have a busy day tomorrow. If Tim has a quiet day, then Everton’s defense will have limited Chelsea’s chances and that is the main key here. In front of Howard will be a back four consisting of Leighton Baines, Joleon Lescott, Joseph Yobo and Tony Hibbert. The midfield will likely have five in the middle out of Phil Neville and Maroune Fellaini anchoring the unit with Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar and Tim Cahill being the creative sparks further forward. All of this will mean Moyes will start with a lone striker up top. Who it will be is tough to tell. Luis Saha could get the nod, however, it is possible for Cahill to get the call since he has played as a lone front man before this season.

Chelsea’s lineup won’t be complicated. Petr Cech will start in goal and look for Everton to test him early since his form has been shaky this season. The back four will be the usual suspects of Jose Bosingwa, John Terry, Alex and Ashley Cole. The midfield could be three across the middle with two wide men further forward with a lone top man. Since Hiddink took over, both Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba have been paired together more often then not, and their would be no reason why it would change. Whichever system the Dutchman goes with, the midfield will be Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and Florent Malouda but also look for the inclusions of Deco, Saloman Kalou or John Obi Mikel possibly.

Key Matchup: The midfield, that’s the bottom line. Whoever can control the middle of Wembley will win this match. If Phil Neville and company can keep Lampard, Essien and Ballack quiet and win the first and second balls then they should be in good shape. How can the toffees do this? By pressing high and playing physical which are Everton strengths. If Chelseaa’s midfield get any time to feed Anelka and Drogba, Everton will need Howard to bail them out.

Hiddink vs Moyes: Nick Webster from FSC gives the edge to Moyes because he thinks Everton will want it more. I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, Hiddink and the blues would have wanted the Premiership and Champions League more. However, Hiddink has won a lot in the game and he’s accomplished so much in a storied playing and coaching career. Being his first FA Cup Final and a trophy he grew up watching, he will be motivated just as much as the fans. Players like Terry and Lampard understand what the tournament is all about so there will be no complacency from Chelsea.

My Pick: Since this is the FA Cup and romance is what makes this tournament what it is, I’m going for Everton even though I am a red. I wouldn’t be shocked if it went all the way to penalties. US number one Timmy Howard was the hero in the semi-final against Manchester United so why not do it again?