The 2009 FA Cup: The Battle of the Blues

Patrick LairdCorrespondent IMay 25, 2009

LONDON - MARCH 09:  Youths play street football on sight of Wembley Stadium on March 9, 2007 in London. The Football Association is expected to receive the keys to the GBP757 million stadium in the next few days.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The 2009 FA Cup Final, to be played on Saturday May 30 at Wembley Stadium in London, will be a battle of the Blues, Chelsea and Everton.

Chelsea will be making their first appearance in the final since their 2007 win over Manchester United. Everton return to the FA Cup Final for the first time since their 1995 triumph at the old Wembley, which was also against the Red Devils. This is not only the last silverware Everton have won, but also the last final they have reached.

Chelsea, on the other hand, have experienced a bit more success since 1995. They've won the FA Cup three times (1997, 2000, 2007, only prior final victory was 1970).

The London club of course won back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006 (ending a 50-year drought) and also reached its first Champions League final in 2008, losing to Manchester United.

Ironically, Chelsea have experienced most of the club's success as it juggled several managers. Everton have had five managers since its 1995 FA Cup win, but have remained with their current Scottish manager, David Moyes, since 2002.

Moyes and Everton have only qualified for the Champions League once, when they finished fourth in the Premier League in 2004-2005. Consistency has not reigned at Goodison Park as the Toffees have qualified for Europe and narrowly avoided relegation since the arrival of Moyes.

Chelsea will double Everton's number of managers since 1995 when current manager, Guus Hiddink, leaves the club. Claudio Ranieri experienced the longest stint with the club between 2000 and 2004.

Regardless, these two sides carry with them expectations, whether old or new, that will certainly reach an apex this Saturday.

Two sides, both who see the world through blue eyes, vow for the prestige of England's most famous crown.

Two sides, one with a history as rich as any other club in England without much recent domestic success; The other who's had more success in this decade than perhaps all its others combined.

Each side view this cup in a very different light. Everton have a vision which they hope will come to fruition, having acquired a coveted manager and his record signings. Chelsea, however, are desperate to maintain their status as one of Europe's elite clubs.

For these two sides, Saturday serves more than just a trophy presentation at the center of the pitch with thousands of its most loyal fans cheering and exulting with them.

Chelsea's Frank Lampard said that it is important for the direction of Chelsea, with its vast array of international players, to be considered the best in the world, and not to endure two trophyless seasons.

Surely some Everton fans would love to be faced with the same demands at the moment. They haven't sipped from the chalice of champions in quite some time, though their prosperous English history boasts ten league titles (including one in the old second division) and five FA cups.

More importantly for Everton are the what seem to be cosmic signs. They've had the toughest road to the final, defeating Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester United to reach it. They've become a little more consistent the past couple of seasons, qualifying for Europe and remaining on the fringe of the top four.

Although with consistency come greater expectations, it won't be too much longer that even Everton fans become a little critical of beloved David Moyes and the void of silverware during his reign.

Just the same, lofty expectations forever replaced fallow ones when Jose Mourinho guided Chelsea to Premier League Championships and the Blues of London became a guaranteed fixture in the latter stages of Champions League.

Saturday's endeavor will be a crossroad of expectations. A win for Everton will cleanse the palate at Goodison Park until next season, then wants will transform into needs.

Stamford Bridge will search for a new manager, but the fact of the matter is the core of players and talent have remained much the same. Saturday can be a day of vindicated summer signings and managerial jugglings, or it can turn into a brooding of misfortunes and shortcomings.

The songs will echo Saturday from Wembley Stadium, surely all extolling the rich blue that both teams adorn.

Whether it is Everton's fans belting out " Onward Evertonians /Onward for to see / See the Royal twin towers / And Royal Wem-ber-ley" or Chelsea's fans singing " Flying high, up in the sky, / We'll keep the blue flag flying high / From Stamford Bridge to Wemb(er)ley / We'll keep the blue flag flying high," the songs will encase with them a pride that only the FA Cup can strengthen.

No, Saturday isn't the most important game for Chelsea and Everton—it's now the only game, and one fans will use to fuel the plight of another decade full of tradition and, hopefully, championships.


    Vecino In, Zappacosta Out at Chelsea... According to Reports

    Chelsea logo

    Vecino In, Zappacosta Out at Chelsea... According to Reports

    Tom Coast
    via Sport Witness

    Baines Set to Follow Rooney to MLS

    Everton logo

    Baines Set to Follow Rooney to MLS

    Monaco Trying to Lure Chelsea Youngster

    Chelsea logo

    Monaco Trying to Lure Chelsea Youngster

    via Goal

    Emery Makes Personal Call to Banega Over Arsenal Move

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Emery Makes Personal Call to Banega Over Arsenal Move

    via mirror