Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, Saturday, 19 May, 1500 BST, Wembley.
This is the official match coverage – for the unofficial, biased preview, read this.
Match videos after this section
For most of the game (ok, all of it), it was a even affair, both sides canceling each other out and the game itself sorely failing to live up to the pompous and wasteful ceremony that preceded it (Prince William looked f’n bored with it).
And then one Didier Drogba, with one of his best goals this season (and possibly his most important) put Chelsea ahead in the 2nd half of extra time, and after that there was no going back. Chelsea took the yellow cards and the Man Utd pressure and got their FA Cup win.
It would be harsh to say that either side was better – it was even, boringly so (I slept through the second half, and was reliably informed that that was probably the best thing to have done).
The one incident of note that will perhaps rankle Manchester United fans a bit was the ‘goal that wasn’t given’, Ryan Giggs sliding into Cech and pushing the ball over the line. The refs couldn’t see it but the camera caught it, and this one is definitely one that could have gone either way. Without video replays, you never know.
To be very honest, the result was fair considering the quality of the goal. And if anyone knows where Drogba went straight after the whistle, let me know. Methinks he went to call his mum, but he could have gone to take a leak or whatever.
Hopefully people will stop bashing Lamps after this – he does a lot more than just shoot, you know.
Chelsea: Cech, Paulo Ferreria, Terry, Essien, Bridge, Makelele, Mikel, Lampard, Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole, Drogba.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Brown, Vidic, Ferdinand, Heinze, Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Ronaldo, Rooney.
The 2007 FA Cup final is being trumpeted as something special, and by all accounts it should be – the top 2 teams in the Premiership are contesting it, and in the history of the FA Cup, it’s only the 3rd time that the top 2 league teams are in the final.
It’s special because of the new Wembley – perhaps a target of ridicule but also England’s testament to it’s self-proclaimed stewardship of the beautiful game.
It’s special because it’s an end-of-the-season showpiece between the two best sides in the country – and perhaps two of the best sides in Europe.
Unfortunately, the FA Cup final is also a lame duck.
It’s a distinct second to the Champions League final taking place 4 days later – a game that could have been the grand finale of a tremendous season and the ‘3rd final’.
A 3rd-place fight isn’t the best thing for a Saturday afternoon, but to make it even lamer, both sides have key personnel injured. Manchester United will once again either play a 4-4-1-1 with Giggs supporting Rooney up front or draft in Ole or Smith to replace the injured Saha. Chelsea have lost Carvalho, Ballack and Shevchenko to injury, with Ashley Cole, Obi Mikel, Arjen Robben and Salomon Kalou carrying niggles.
So in most aspects, it will be a spectacle and a hard-fought game but with a bitter undercurrent of regret. If the last game between the two sides was anything to go by though, that regret could easily be replaced with anger if a few mistimed tackles from Smith or Mikel connect.
A month ago (April 16th), I wrote this intro to the final:
Where will you be on 19th May, 2007? History will be in the making at Wembley, whichever way you want to look at it.
Manchester United will take on Chelsea at Wembley in a clash of wills, strength and skills with a dash of class thrown in from either side.
Both sides are evenly matched and will have an equal chance to win, although injuries could take their toll. With Manchester United’s form this season and Chelsea’s never-say-die attitude, the final promises to be a bloody and glorious classic.
We’ll know today who’s going to come up trumps, so there’s little point in discussing tactics or ‘why my team will beat yours’.
I’ll put up the match report, team lineups and goal videos as soon as I get my hands on them.
Watch this space.
More to read:
Enjoy the game – the above may be a bit pessimistic but I did cheer myself up by writing this and I think the match will be great to watch.