Glory or consolation on offer in FA Cup final

LONDON - Saturday's FA Cup final gives Everton the chance to cap an impressive season with rare silverware while for Chelsea it offers little more than a minor consolation in another frustrating campaign.

Chelsea will want a rousing send-off for manager Guus Hiddink but having lost so painfully to Barcelona in the Champions League semis and finishing third in the league, it will not be easy to motivate themselves.

They bounced back from the Barcelona disappointment to hammer Arsenal 4-1 but Everton are a different prospect.

While not quite the "Dogs of War" who celebrated their narrow escape from relegation by harrying Manchester United into submission to win the final 1-0 14 years ago, they are still a fiercely competitive team.

Belgian Marouane Fellaini, with 13 yellow cards to his name in his first season of English football, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar and captain Phil Neville do not look on paper to be a match for Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien.

The Toffees have also often struggled to field a fit striker of any sort this season, let alone one of the pedigree of Didier Drogba or 25-goal Nicolas Anelka.


Yet they have more than held their own with most Premier League opposition, including Chelsea, when Everton had much the better of last month's goalless draw at Stamford Bridge and drew 0-0 at Goodison in December.

"The players have been very good and they know they are getting ready for a big game," said David Moyes, whose achievements on a meagre budget earned him manager of the season award for the third time this week.

"There is no doubt they have improved as players and we have got momentum with us. There is a real desire and hunger about these players. Everybody at this club has longed to get to another FA Cup final."

Everton's route to the final shows they are a match for anyone after overcoming Liverpool, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Manchester United, on penalties.

Even when they lost midfielder Mikel Arteta, their most creative force, and England centre back Phil Jagielka, Everton kept their momentum and finished strongly to overhaul Villa and finish fifth in the league for the second season running.

While that represents real success for Moyes, Chelsea expect much more for the investment of Roman Abramovich.

Hiddink, who will return to his role as Russia coach after Saturday, said there was a real will to get up one more time.

"Normally at the end of the season you have players who fade away a bit but none whatsoever in this group -- the internal motivation is high," said the Dutchman.

"It's a final with worldwide attention, real football people love to watch this and to get some silverware would be perfect."