I’m really excited to be involved an FA Cup final at the end of my first year as Chelsea manager.
We’ve beaten some really good teams to get here, including Liverpool, Leicester City and an in-form Manchester United in the semi-final, so it’s been a tough road and I’m really proud to have made it.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my first season as Chelsea manager. I knew there would be some tough moments, but I wanted to try and stay in and around the top four, and win a trophy, and we now have the opportunity to do that.
Not many people remember the losers on these occasions, though, and so it’s up to us to finish the job and go on and win it. We have a very tough match against another in-form club, and so while I’m proud to be here, I want to make sure we’re on the winning side.
We face a tough opponent and I’m expecting to see in Arsenal a continuation of the improvement they’ve enjoyed under Mikel Arteta. They’re a team of many talents, particularly in the attacking areas, and they have some really exciting young players.
You can see they’re really organised defensively under Mikel and he has them playing well; their semi-final win against Manchester City was a great example of the uplift in performances.
I’ve played in a few of these Finals before but Chelsea is a club that is lucky to be involved in many big games. A final always has an extra edge to it, but I try and stay as consistent as possible on these occasions both with the players and what I say to them. It’s important that they realise that they only get one chance to win this game.
The biggest thing I always felt going into finals as a player was that you don’t want to have any regrets, and I want the players to play individually and collectively without any regrets afterwards. I want them simply to give everything for Chelsea. Today is a big deal for everyone involved at the club.
I have some very fond memories of winning this competition. I scored the winning goal against Everton in 2010, which was always a dream of mine as a young boy. Scoring that goal was a great moment, but every time you win the Cup and what that means collectively to your teammates, the coaching staff and the fans is always huge. This stage really holds that element of magic for me.
The fact that today’s Final is a derby only adds to the sense of occasion. Getting your name on that cup forever is a big incentive, but to know that there’s a rivalry and what that means to the supporters, that adds to the spice.
Winning the FA Cup as a player was amazing, but when you’re a manager you take on more responsibility, so to bring success gives you a more rounded feeling of responsibility.
I want to bring success to this club, my club, and I’d love to win this for everyone, particularly the fans as I know exactly what this competition means to them.READ THE HEADS UP FA CUP FINAL PROGRAMME