Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard aware of FA Cup importance

By Carl Markham

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes the importance of the FA Cup is highlighted by its global reach.

The world's oldest knockout competition is steeped in tradition - even if the kick-off for today's clash with Chelsea has been moved to 5.15pm - and that is recognised not just by homegrown players but those from overseas.

"The FA Cup is special, and not just for us English guys," said the England midfielder, who will lead his side out in a Wembley final for the second time in less than three months after a Carling Cup victory.

"All the foreign lads are sat there in the dressing room saying they can't wait for it.

"It just goes to show how big this competition is worldwide.

"Some of the biggest experiences myself and Jamie Carragher have had over the years have been winning cups.

"They are nights when you are successful you look back on with fond memories.

"The FA Cup is special altogether but we got a taste of success winning the Carling Cup and that will help some of the younger players in the squad and everyone really because winning breeds confidence."

Carragher said he did not think the rivalry between the two clubs was as intense as it was a few years ago when Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho were in charge of their respective sides.

This will be their 31st meeting since the start of 2004/5 season but Gerrard believes when a trophy is up for grabs there is an added edge.

"When there is an FA Cup at stake it is going to be a massive clash," added the Reds skipper.

"They have got top players and are a good side and it shows how powerful they are because it seems to us if we are going to be successful and win these cups we have to overcome Chelsea on the way.

"They have a lot to play for: top four, Champions League, FA Cup but they have a massive squad and strength in depth with two or there good players in every position.

"I don't think it (a pending Champions League final against Bayern Munich) will matter once the game starts but it might affect their team selection.

"We are expecting a very strong Chelsea side and a similar match to what we have experienced over the last four or five years, which is very cagey."

The Stamford Bridge side have seen an unexpected upturn in results under interim manager Roberto di Matteo since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas.

"It's no surprise to me," said Gerrard.

"I was very surprised it didn't work under Andre Villas-Boas - only they know why it didn't work.

"Since Roberto di Matteo has taken over they have got that winning mentality back, they have become the machine everyone knows Chelsea are and they are a very formidable team.

"We have won a lot of big matches over the years by sticking together and working hard for each other and Chelsea have that as well."


Chelsea take on Liverpool in what promises to be a classic FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

Matt Johnson looks at five unforgettable clashes between the two sides.

Liverpool 2-3 Chelsea (AET)

League Cup final, February 27, 2005

The match that brought Jose Mourinho his first trophy at Chelsea saw Liverpool take the lead within a minute through John Arne Riise before Steven Gerrard's own goal brought the Blues level late on. The excitement proved too much for Mourinho to handle as he was sent off for taunting the watching Merseysiders. Forced to look on from a television screen, Mourinho revelled as Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman struck in extra time to capture the silverware despite a late goal from Antonio Nunez.

Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (1-0 on aggregate)

Champions League semi-final, second leg, May 3, 2005

The first match had been a dull scoreless draw at Stamford Bridge, but there was no danger of a repeat in the return as controversy struck in just the fourth minute. A cutting Liverpool attack left the onrushing Petr Cech stranded as Luis Garcia scuffed an effort goalwards. It appeared as if William Gallas had done enough to clear, but the linesman ruled it had crossed the line and Liverpool went on to reach their first European Cup final for 20 years.

Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

FA Cup semi-final, April 22, 2006

Rafael Benitez's Liverpool defeated a powerful Chelsea outfit at Old Trafford to end Jose Mourinho's hopes of securing a domestic double. A John Arne Riise free-kick and a Luis Garcia wonder strike put the Merseysiders 2-0 in front, but a 70th-minute Didier Drogba header pulled the Blues back into contention. However, Joe Cole blazed a late chance over the bar as Liverpool held out for the victory that set up a meeting with West Ham United in the final.

Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (AET, 4-3 on aggregate)

Champions League semi-final, April 30, 2008

Chelsea finally gained revenge for their controversial 2005 semi-final defeat as a double from Didier Drogba took them into their first ever European Cup Final. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Anfield, Chelsea drew first blood through Drogba but Liverpool hit back and Fernando Torres equalised in the second half to force extra time. A Frank Lampard penalty and Drogba's second was enough to seal a path to the final and a meeting with Manchester United despite an exquisite consolation from Ryan Babel.

Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool (7-5 on aggregate)

Champions League quarter-final, April 14, 2009.

The Blues looked to be in control after taking a commanding 3-1 lead away from Anfield from the first leg, but what followed was a truly breathtaking end-to-end contest. Fabio Aurelio's goal and Xabi Alonso's penalty swung the pendulum in favour of Rafael Benitez's side, but Chelsea drew level on the night in the opening 10 minutes of the second half through Drogba and Alex. Lampard made it 3-2 to put the tie beyond doubt, but further goals from Lucas, Dirk Kuyt and Lampard in the final nine minutes capped off the gripping encounter.

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