| 14.3°C Dublin

Blues can use cup win to go to next level


Lampard and Chelsea could crown a very good season by winning the FA Cup tomorrow

Lampard and Chelsea could crown a very good season by winning the FA Cup tomorrow

Pool via REUTERS

Lampard and Chelsea could crown a very good season by winning the FA Cup tomorrow

I have enjoyed watching Chelsea this season, and it's a long time since I was able to say that. Even when they were winning leagues and doing well under Jose Mourinho or other managers, I never really liked watching them play.

When they won leagues, it was great to be a Chelsea supporter but not for anyone else. As a neutral, you wouldn't say 'I'd really like to see Chelsea this week'. They were never easy on the eye.

But under Frank Lampard this season they are exciting. They have done really well, played well, they have a generation of players which is younger than they've ever had before, they are an attacking side who play with more freedom than you'd expect from Chelsea.

And if they can win the FA Cup tomorrow and add that to Champions League qualification, it will have been a very good season for Lampard and the team.

I'd expect Chelsea to win tomorrow and take home the FA Cup. They are far ahead of an Arsenal side who have a long, long way to go before they can even think of challenging for the Premier League again.

I worry about Chelsea defensively. To concede 54 league goals in a season is horrendous and they'll never win the Premier League by letting in that sort of tally .

But Chelsea are not far from being competitive again, they have some exciting signings on the way in and even though tomorrow will be a strange occasion - a Cup final in August with no crowd - winning the Cup would still be something of an achievement for Lampard.

The FA Cup has been downgraded a lot in the last few years, but this year's final is important as either Mikel Arteta or Lampard will win their first trophy as manager, which is a big feat in your first season in the Premier League.

Chelsea didn't appoint Lampard to 'just' win the FA Cup, they have bigger ambitions for themselves. But it will be a big help to him in his career if he can win it. As a club Chelsea would draw belief from winning the FA Cup.

Arsenal showed in the semi-final win over Manchester City what they can be as a team. They were outstanding that day and if they can use this final as a starting point for something bigger, it would also say a lot about them.

It's been a very poor season for Arsenal. In fact, it's been a terrible few seasons at that club.

You see how long it took Manchester United to get back close to the top after Alex Ferguson left, and this season United look as if they are starting to go places, to get consistent and to get better. United at least look like they are on the right path.

Arsenal have looked lost since Arsene Wenger left. You never knew who was first choice in their team and you had no idea what formation they'd play, they had no real identity.

Arteta is striving to get that, but even if they win the FA Cup, to finish eighth in the Premier League, with the outlay they've had on players, is still a failure.

A Cup win would at least be a start for Arteta, he could say that the league was not his priority this season, that he came in too late to make a go of it in the league, but Arsenal will only have progressed as a club if and when they are challenging for the top four again.

Analyse how well Liverpool have bought over the last few years and then look at where they are now: the likes of Arsenal need to get their recruitment right, as Liverpool did, to get back to the top.

It's not about buying a player who has had one good season in the French league, it has to be a player you know you can trust, a player who has done it for three or four years at a good level.

If Chelsea can add to what they have done this season by doing some good recruitment over the close season, they'll be in better shape.

They need a goalkeeper and a steadier defence than they have. They have options in the middle and up front, and the likes of Hakim Ziyech are exciting signings. But only if they can make things tighter at the back will they be closer to Liverpool and Manchester City.

I'd start with the goalkeeper. Kepa Arrizabalaga is one of the most expensive keepers in the history of the game ... and he was dropped for a league game against Wolves.

He has that status from his transfer fee, but he wasn't signed by Lampard and the manager clearly has doubts about him. You just can't spend €70m on a young goalkeeper who has had one ok season in the Spanish league - you need to study him to see is he a reliable No.1 for the long term.

I think Chelsea were taking a punt when they spent that money, hoping he'd come good, and it's been a failure as a policy.

There is a world of difference between being a decent keeper in the Spanish league and being a top keeper in the Premier League, you need a stronger physical presence than Kepa has. I think his time is up and they need to look elsewhere for a keeper.

Arsenal actually conceded fewer goals in the Premier League than Chelsea, but they too are weak at the back.

They don't have good defenders, don't have good defensive midfielders and as a team they lack the discipline you need.

If Arsenal concede one, you just know they'll concede two more, very quickly. I don't see a team that hurts when they concede or lose a game.

No matter who they try, be it a Skhrodan Mustafi or a David Luiz, they are not the right characters, yet Arsenal keep buying these players and get let down on the field.

All of that has caught up with Arsenal to leave them where they are, adrift in the Premier League and hoping for an FA Cup to put a gloss on the season. But as a club and a team, it's Chelsea who are the ones on the right path and they should show that at Wembley tomorrow.