Cup offers Torres and Carroll chance of glory

Either Fernando Torres of Chelsea or Andy Carroll of Liverpool, who have both hugely under-achieved since their record-breaking transfers last year, will claim one of English football's major prizes when their teams meet in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Torres, at least, has recently shown glimpses of why Chelsea paid 50 million pounds to Liverpool for him in January last year - a record fee between British clubs.

The Spaniard has scored four goals in his last three games, including last week's solo effort at Barcelona which sealed Chelsea's place in the Champions League final on May 19.

He also scored his first hat-trick for Chelsea in their 6-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Sunday but failed to hit the net in Wednesday's 2-0 home defeat by Newcastle United and in total has scored only 12 times for Chelsea.

Carroll became the most expensive British player of all time when Liverpool paid Newcastle United 35 million pounds for him to replace Torres, but has scored only 11 goals in 54 matches for Liverpool since.

At least his late header against Everton in the semi-final at Wembley three weeks ago guaranteed Liverpool a return to the London stadium for the final.

Now the two strikers, both dropped from their national sides and both remarkably unproductive in front of goal, have the chance of lasting redemption and a place in their club's folklore as an FA Cup winner.

Despite the focus on the Premier League, and a late kick-off for this year's final rather than its traditional 1500 start, the FA Cup is still one of football's grand occasions.

The match is being shown live to a huge global audience in more than 120 countries and, as everyone in football never tires of saying, the money is all very well but winning silverware is what matters.

Liverpool have already picked up a trophy this season with a win over Cardiff City on penalties in the League Cup final in February.

Their league form though, has been erratic and continued to disappoint on Tuesday when a side showing nine changes from the previous game lost 1-0 at Anfield to Fulham - the first time Fulham had won a match there in 30 attempts over 78 years.

CUP DOUBLE

Coach Kenny Dalglish though, saw no relationship between his team's latest setback and Saturday's final.

"It will not affect Saturday but that doesn't mean the performance is right and it is not something you want to dismiss easily," he said.

"It is not correct to go about your work in that way but if we had come in and won 4-0 it wouldn't have made any difference to Saturday either."

He was pleased, though, that Carroll was back after missing Saturday's 3-0 win at Norwich City.

"There were some positives. It was nice to see the big lad back. He had a niggle at the weekend but he is fit and back and played 90 minutes so that is good for us."

Despite their League failings, Liverpool have the chance to complete a rare domestic FA Cup and League Cup double, emulating Arsenal's in 1993, their own in 2001 and Chelsea's in 2007.

Chelsea have been the outstanding cup side in the country over the last few years and have the chance of winning the first half of a cup