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06 June 2023

Di Matteo banks on Cup run to bolster Chelsea


Roberto di Matteo believes a good FA Cup run can help lift Chelsea’s season.

The Blues advanced to a fourth round meeting with either QPR or MK Dons on the back of a 4-0 win over Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge here on Sunday.

This result meant Andre Villas-Boas’s side had started the new year with back to back victories after ending 2011 on a poor run the manager admits may have wrecked their hopes in the Premier League title race.

The win over Portsmouth - Chelsea’s beaten opponents in the 2010 FA Cup final at Wembley - got the Blues back on track at Stamford Bridge following the 3-1 defeat in their last home outing against Aston Villa.

Juan Mata broke the deadlock with Pompey early in the second half but it was not until a a flurry of goals in the final five minutes - two from Ramires and one from fellow midfielder Frank Lampard - that Chelsea’s victory was assured.

Now Villas-Boas’s assistant di Matteo, twice an FA Cup winner as a player with Chelsea in 1997 and 2000, said: “The FA Cup is a trophy we want to win and a run in the Cup can the lift the whole environment.

The former Italy midfielder praised the performance of Ramires, particularly the Brazilian’s finish for his second goal.

“I have to say I was very pleased with that one, the way he did it. He is a fantastic player for us, very dynamic, he brings us plenty of energy.”

Meanwhile di Matteo insisted he was unaware of any approach from London rivals Arsenal for Salomon Kalou.

The forward is reported to be a target for the Gunners but is currently on African Nations Cup duty with the Ivory Coast, as is Chelsea’s Didier Drogba.

“I know that he (Kalou) is in a pre-tournament camp in Abu Dhabi with his national team,” said di Matteo. “That’s what I know.”

Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton said the scoreline had been harsh on the second tier club, FA Cup winners as recently as 2008.

“We got back into the game after conceding the first goal and you sensed there was some nervousness towards the end before they got the second goal.

“But that’s why Chelsea are where they are and we are a Championship club because the longer the name goes on and fatigue comes in and a loss of concentration comes in at times and they have players who can be clinical.”

Portsmouth are once again seeking new owners after the latest round of off-field problems to beset the south coast club and Appleton hoped the matter could be resolved quickly.

“We’ve been told there are two or three interested parties and they are pushing each other really hard,” he said.

“From my point of view we are in the first week in January and I think it’s important if we can to get a bit of stability.”

“I see it as the perfect opportunity for new owners to come in January and then really stamp their authority on the club.”