2009 FA Cup Finalists Chelsea and Everton meet in their fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge and it could take a nail-biting finish to decide who takes the next step towards another Wembley appearance.
Chelsea won 2-1 to lift the FA Cup at Wembley two years ago, before going on to retain the trophy against Portsmouth the following year. Carlo Ancelotti will be looking to achieve a rare FA Cup hat trick to put some gloss on a season that has lost has disappointed Chelsea fans with side losing touch with the top of the League.
Everton have been beaten just once at the Bridge in nearly five years when losing to an injury time goal in a League Cup tie in January 2008, games between these two sides have a tendency to be close fought affairs and this game could easily go to extra-time given their history of draws.
Ancelotti cannot be accused of taking the FA Cup competition lightly and he is expected to field another strong side to take on David Moyes determined side. Everton may be struggling to make a mark in the Premier League this term but Moyes has the FA Cup in his sights as he looks to end Goodison Park’s 16-year wait for silverware.
The Scot was disappointed his team could not finish off the Cup holders at the first attempt on Merseyside after squandering a number of chances to seal the game. In the end, Salomon Kalou’s substitution proved inspired, the Chelsea forward leveling Louis Saha’s opener within five minutes of coming off the bench. Moyes is hoping the resumption of the UEFA Champions League will be on Chelsea players’ minds as they prepare to face Copenhagen in midweek and the Toffees can take advantage of any lapse in concentration.
Ancelotti leaves Fernando Torres in the stands for this game, his £50 million striker is cup tied, which could herald a return for Didier Drogba who was left out of the goalless draw at Fulham on Monday night. Salomon Kalou will be hoping to figure from the start for the replay and John Obi Mikel will come back into the reckoning for what will surely be a physical encounter, both players were overlooked against Fulham.
Chelsea’s talented youngsters, Josh McCreacehn and Ryan Bertrand will be hopeful of beong selected for a rare chance to show off their skills in front of a big crowd.
Everton’s Louis Saha will miss out after being struck down with yet another injury, the French striker has not recovered from a hamstring complaint. Jack Rodwell also misses the game, he and recovered from his groin injury but lacks fitness and won’t be risked.
Jermaine Beckford will get the chance to make amends for a bad miss in the Goodison game that could have seen Everton lining up against Reading for a fifth round tie and he’s expected to partner Victor Anichebe up front. Tim Cahill should have adjusted since returning from the Asian Cup having played the full 90 minutes against Bolton on Sunday and Moyes will be looking for an inspirational performance from the Australian.