When two extremely well-matched sides compete in a cup final, a moment of brilliance is often the difference maker. Some may argue that Everton is not in the same league as Chelsea. But with David Moyes at the helm, the Toffees have defied all odds to finish the season strong without much spending. Before this weekend’s FA Cup Final kicked off at the new Wembley, I couldn’t help but wish that Moyes and his men add the icing to the cake by winning the trophy they have deserved the most this season (at least in my opinion).
Having eliminated Liverpool and Manchester United on their way to the final, the Toffees surely got the support of the neutrals. Hence, the Merseyside outfit started with a lot of support and momentum, gaining the lead through a fierce Louis Saha strike within the first twenty-five seconds. However, the lead wouldn’t last too long as the in-form Didier Drogba scored yet again to bring the men from West London on level terms midway through the first half.
To Everton’s credit, however, the side justified its billing by matching Chelsea for the remainder of the half. In fact, even in the opening exchanges of the second half, it was not clear which side would end up scoring next. It is actually reasonable to believe that until the goal was actually scored, no one knew which side would take the lead, thanks to the nature of that stunning strike.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s talismanic midfield hero, was responsible for this aforementioned moment of brilliance. Before going on to celebrate his 20th goal of this campaign, the England international controlled a through-ball with his right, but slipped in the process of controlling. As the Everton faithful roared at an all-Blue Wembley, Lampard recovered within the next second by cutting in the ball while on the ground. Next, the Chelsea Player of the Year unleashed a sublime curling drive with his left foot, giving Tim Howard absolutely no chance.
The expression on the face of David Moyes told the entire story. In a game that had largely been a midfield battle, his valiant side had fallen to a Chelsea midfield led by a certain Frank Lampard, who rarely receives the credit that he deserves. At Premiership Talk, I have often stood up for Lampard, but the fact that he was not even a serious contender for the PFA Player of the Year is a great shame! Anyways, it is important to give credit to the entire Chelsea side for a superb team effort rather than just giving Lampard the credit.
Therefore, while it is impossible not to feel sorry for a very hardworking Everton side, it is also difficult to argue with Chelsea’s superiority on the final match-day itself. Sure, Everton held its own till Lampard made it 2-1. But rather than fighting intensely for an equalizer, the Toffees faded away and were lucky not to lose by more as Florent Malouda’s long-range effort was denied for not crossing the line when it actually had, as per the replays. Furthermore, Lampard should have been awarded a penalty but was bizarrely booked for a dive following Stephen Pienaar’s foul on him inside the penalty box. Chelsea won’t mind, though, as I am sure they will be ready to move on to the future!
As everyone will be talking about in the coming days, Chelsea is surely set for a new chapter in its history following a great send-off for Guus Hiddink. However, I believe that Everton is also ready to experience a new chapter as the side will no longer need to prove its credentials as the strongest outside the Big Four. Starting next season, Moyes and his squad will be expected to take it up by another notch by seriously challenging for a place in the top four once again!
Does Everton have enough to challenge the Big Four next season? Have your say in the comments section below!