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  1. Our first FA Cup final for a decade then, and it’s against the team we played in the last one. It’s also the second domestic final this season featuring the two sides. We got the better of an absorbing encounter in the League Cup final to triumph on penalties to claim our first trophy of this incredible season. To say our FA Cup record is poor is an understatement, even if we’ve previously won it 7 times which is more than most. In the last 20 years in particular, we’ve sacrificed progress in the FA Cup to concentrate our efforts elsewhere. In most cases that was down to a lack of squad depth, but all too often it’s been the result of complacency and not matching opponents for fight. This is an opportunity to correct things, and show we genuinely have a squad built to challenge on multiple fronts. Atmosphere. Bravery. Intelligence. Drive. Energy. Work-rate. Ingenuity. Tactical nous. Heart. Motivation. Effervescence. I don’t ask for much. Our previous two FA Cup ties at Chelsea have seen us on the wrong end of a result. In 2020, we were beaten at the Bridge thanks to some calamitous goalkeeping from Adrian. 10 years ago we were bullied by Drogba and co until the introduction of Carroll almost saw us claw our way back. In the latter period of that game, we were denied by the ball being deemed not to have crossed the line, and had that gone in, we looked to have the momentum to find a winner. Alas no. In 2006, things were better. Though Chelsea would easily retain the league title, the FA Cup was a different matter. We were having a very good season in the league, we were hard to break down and we had experience of bettering Chelsea in a semi final. The game took place at Old Trafford in the last week of April (the new Wembley was still a few months from completion so finals continued to be staged in Cardiff), and Chelsea rested one or two regulars. The Reds took the lead after a free kick routine on the edge of the area saw JAR go for placement over power, hitting a low effort around the wall and into the bottom corner. Chelsea, though still in the game, didn’t look as powerful as they did in the league. Kewell had had a pretty good season himself (probably better than his debut season) and he was having an effective game one our left. It was the fella on the other side who would haunt Chelsea once again, with Lil Luis racing through after a defensive misjudgement to lob the ball over the stranded Cudicini. No whinging from the Blues about that one not crossing the line. They had it all to do now, and despite Drogba finding the net with over 10 minutes to go, the final stages weren’t quite as nervy as one might expect even though Joe Cole blazed over late on. We were through, and would go on to claim our seventh (and to date, our last) FA Cup on penalties against West Ham in the Stevie G final. Sleeper hit psychological horror film Silent Hill was atop the box office in April 2006. The film stars professional Yorkshireman Sean Bean and Radha Mitchell (of Pitch Black fame) and is based on the PlayStation game of the same name. She plays the adoptive mother of a young girl who gets visions of the abandoned town of the same name while sleepwalking. She and her husband take the young girl to the almost derelict town in search of answers (as you do!), only to wind up in a car accident from which she awakes to find the young girl missing. It also turns out that the town exists in some weird other dimension populated by folk that turn into monsters, and from which there is seemingly no way out. Added to that is her daughter’s weird connection to this odd place. I don’t recall having even heard of this film and I’ve never played the game, but the basic plot is a little formulaic. I could be talking about any number of films or TV shows here. The fact it was a hit might be more down to the public’s love of this sort of tale, and a bit due its computer game origins. Reviews certainly suggest it’s run-of-the-mill. It wouldn’t surprise me if Tuchel has Kante, Kovacic and Pulisic available for this one. They are either out injured or out of form most of the time but they always seem to be available when Chelsea play us. Our main question mark is Fab’s fitness after he went off injured at Villa yesterday. Form-wise, Mo’s looked out of sorts since the AFCON (Sadio has been our standout since then) and Diogo has struggled to make an impact in recent weeks. Bobby should be available for this one though. I don’t think motivation or attitude will be in question here for any of the players. The question is application. Do we set out with the aim of dominating possession and territory? Or do we look to play it cagey and gradually turn the screw? Whatever we do, we must be bang up for it. A trophy is at stake, and it’s one that only Millie and Ox have any experience of winning. I don’t care that Chelsea have been runners-up for two seasons running already. I care that we make it 3. Let’s go and win it, and make a domestic cup double the minimum of our achievements this season. Upwards!
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