This year’s FA Cup is like a box of chocolates – you munch your favourites early then make the most of those that remain.
Well, so it seems for Chelsea anyway as three of the top four have plummeted from the tournament in its opening two (higher tiered) rounds. The Blues certainly haven’t given up on this illustrious and historic competition, and if the others want to disrespect the most prestigious of domestic cups on offer then so be it. Carlo Ancelotti undoubtedly came to the Blue of London with the premise of achieving silverware and he is smoothly progressing in the right direction. Another comfortable cup win and a friendly draw have cemented the Blues as almost formulaic champions. A home tie in the following round will see Chelsea play host to Cardiff, another Championship opponent and a duly appreciated home tie. The draw was certainly well received amongst Chelsea fans amidst the possibilities of Manchester City, Aston Villa and expectantly Tottenham. This being said there was little to fear from the last sixteen, with Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafael Benitez all falling consequence of their managerial arrogance. The trio boldly fielded derogatory teams in a cup as well respected and prestigious as that the FA Cup and must now face the flak. Their egotism cost them dear and their decisions were largely impertinent to the glorious competition that they condemned to an irritation rather than a prospect of a day at Wembley.
New to the Premier League is manager Ancelotti, whose well informed footballing wits are able to understand the fans craving for an enthralling FA Cup run. The adrenalin of necessitating nothing less than a win sees fans rise from their seats at every given opportunity, the atmosphere is electric whether at the ground or in your living room, the tension is unbearable. Although a Premier League title and European competitions provide a more profitable business opportunity and generate larger cash sums in the long run, the FA Cup has history. It is more than the added cash bonus the big investors brought the club for, it’s a competition solely for the fans and players. Young children dream of lifting the FA Cup, not securing second place in the league just to ensure they get the cash for a guaranteed Champions League spot. This is where the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United have gone wrong, as in their pursuit of maximising profit they have abandoned the fan bases that ultimately led to their distinction as a top club.
Blues fans are not complaining however, with a possibility of another glory day at Wembley, Ancelotti is promptly making sharp inroads with the Chelsea faithful. Daniel Sturridge produced another terrific display, receiving great praise from club captain, John Terry. The striker showed great athleticism, agility and awareness throughout his performance, which was once again sealed with a cup goal. The smug twenty-year-old was on hand to snatch his third FA Cup goal with a close range finish which could see the young Englishmen earn a starting place in the league this coming week. A number of absentees were omitted from the Chelsea cup team with Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole still injured amongst the African contingency, however the fringe players were given a chance to showcase their talents and they did so with considerable aplomb in a leisurely away win.
The Blues will be reunited with African duo Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba this week as the pair were eliminated from the tournament after a 3-2 defeat to the Algerians in an epic battle. There return will be well received by the Chelsea board and manager although the club hardly struggled without them, stringing together a number high scoring wins. The Blues will however need to revert focus back to the League as their position at the top has been scavenged upon by Arsenal and Manchester United’s double game-week. A home tie against on-form Birmingham will necessitate all the Londoners’ brute force and winning mentality to ensure their position at the top has not been compromised by a will-power to achieve in all the domestic competitions.