Everton aiming to deny Chelsea FA Cup consolation

Everton get the chance of their first trophy in 14 years in Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea

updated: May 28, 2009 11:20 IST
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Everton get the chance of their first trophy in 14 years in Saturday's FA Cup final and the added incentive of denying Chelsea a consolation prize after missing out on more loftier aims.

Everton have finished fifth in the Premier League the past two years and can mark their steady improvement under manager David Moyes by clinching a first honor since the 1995 FA Cup.

But Chelsea's players are keen to avoid a second straight season without a trophy after finishing third in the Premier League and being eliminated by Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.

And motivation is even greater for the players who feel they were denied an appearance in the Champions League final only by debatable refereeing decisions against Barcelona.

"It's a final isn't it?" Chelsea defender Ashley Cole said. "We'd rather be in a Champions League final, but it wasn't to be.

"When we went out, it was finished for us. We knew we still had the FA Cup and to chase Liverpool for second place. Obviously that went, but we still had to focus on the FA Cup. That made it a little bit easier."

Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 in extra time to win the 2007 final for the last of its FA Cups, and the players also want to give Guus Hiddink a fifth title in his final match as manager before returning to train Russia full-time.

Club owner Roman Abramovich, who also helps bankroll the Russian national team, hired Hiddink in January only to guide Chelsea to third place in the Premier League and qualification for the Champions League.

He did that with ease, so victory on Saturday would be a bonus before he is replaced _ most likely by AC Milan's Carlo Ancelotti.

"We love working under him," Chelsea captain John Terry said. "We'd love him to stay but we understand the circumstances. It would be a nice way to end the relationship.

"It's the way he deals with people. He gets respect. He's got that aura. We admire him for sticking to his word when he came in. He gave Russia his word and he's certainly doing that. He's a great man to do that because he has thoroughly enjoyed it here."

Victory at Wembley on Saturday would be Hiddink's 16th in 22 games since arriving in February, with only a single loss to Tottenham in the Premier League.

With Frank Lampard and Alex fit after being rested for last week's final Premier League win over Sunderland, Hiddink should have a full squad to choose from.

He may decide to put John Obi Mikel in a defensive midfield role ahead of Michael Ballack to help combat a tenacious Everton side.

"Everton, not because they are our opponent, deserve a lot of respect because of the way they are built without the resources of other clubs and that's because of the management," Hiddink said. "They can fight and are very well organized."

Hiddink is particularly wary of Everton's scoring midfielder, Tim Cahill, whom he coached while in charge of the Australia national side.

"Tim, I know from my Aussie period and he is one of those players who is very determined," Hiddink said. "This is a guy who on top of good organization can make the good decisions. He did a wonderful job in the Aussie team."

Everton, which twice drew 0-0 against Chelsea in the Premier League, will again be without players including Mikel Arteta and Yakubu Ayegbeni because of injury but can at least call upon Tim Howard in goal.

The United States international, who won the FA Cup with Manchester United in 2004, saved two penalties in the semifinal shootout win over his former club last month and will again practice spot kicks in case Saturday's match goes the same way.

"I've been more focused on getting the games out of the way, but we'll certainly leave no stone unturned. I can promise you that," Howard said.