Gerrard: FA Cup is special all over the world

Gerrard: FA Cup is special all over the world

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes the importance of the FA Cup is highlighted by its global reach.

The world's oldest knockout competition is steeped in tradition - even if the kick-off for today's clash with Chelsea has been moved to 5.15pm - and that is recognised not just by homegrown players but those from overseas.

"The FA Cup is special, and not just for us English guys," said the England midfielder, who will lead his side out in a Wembley final for the second time in less than three months after a Carling Cup victory.

"All the foreign lads are sat there in the dressing room saying they can't wait for it.

"It just goes to show how big this competition is worldwide.

"Some of the biggest experiences myself and Jamie Carragher have had over the years have been winning cups.

"They are nights when you are successful you look back on with fond memories.

"The FA Cup is special altogether but we got a taste of success winning the Carling Cup and that will help some of the younger players in the squad and everyone really because winning breeds confidence."

Carragher said he did not think the rivalry between the two clubs was as intense as it was a few years ago when Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho were in charge of their respective sides.

This will be their 31st meeting since the start of 2004/5 season but Gerrard believes when a trophy is up for grabs there is an added edge.

"When there is an FA Cup at stake it is going to be a massive clash," added the Reds skipper.

"They have got top players and are a good side and it shows how powerful they are because it seems to us if we are going to be successful and win these cups we have to overcome Chelsea on the way.

"They have a lot to play for: top four, Champions League, FA Cup but they have a massive squad and strength in depth with two or there good players in every position.

"I don't think it (a pending Champions League final against Bayern Munich) will matter once the game starts but it might affect their team selection.

"We are expecting a very strong Chelsea side and a similar match to what we have experienced over the last four or five years, which is very cagey."

The Stamford Bridge side have seen an unexpected upturn in results under interim manager Roberto di Matteo since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas.

"It's no surprise to me," said Gerrard.

"I was very surprised it didn't work under Andre Villas-Boas - only they know why it didn't work.

"Since Roberto di Matteo has taken over they have got that winning mentality back, they have become the machine everyone knows Chelsea are and they are a very formidable team.

"We have won a lot of big matches over the years by sticking together and working hard for each other and Chelsea have that as well."

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