FA Cup strikers analysis

Last updated at 14:35 18 May 2007

When Chelsea and Manchester United meet in the FA Cup final on May 19, the first winners at the new Wembley will be decided by the quartet of striking

options both teams have in their squads.

Chelsea boast three foreigners and

England international Joe Cole as an additional frontman, and United have a

split of two overseas stars and two English players in Wayne Rooney and the

fit-again Alan Smith.

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Didier Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko have been the main attacking selections in

Chelsea's run to the final with five starts each.

Mourinho rotated his team in the third round against Macclesfield before his

top two hitmen paired up against Nottingham Forest and, within 21 minutes, both

had grabbed their first goals of the campaign.

Their partnership continued with a goal each versus Norwich in round four.

Salomon Kalou made a rare start for the Blues in the 6-1 win over lowly

Macclesfield but has contributed from the substitutes' bench with the

all-important equaliser with five minutes remaining in the quarter-final tie

against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

Joe Cole made his first FA Cup appearance of the season after a foot injury

with a start against Blackburn at Old Trafford in the semi-final.

Wayne Rooney has been Manchester United's main man on the road to Wembley this

season. In four starts and two substitute appearances Rooney has scored six

goals, with two braces against Portsmouth in round four and the semi-final

against Watford at Villa Park.

Louis Saha's injury nightmare continues and the Frenchman's involvement in the

cup has been limited to just two starts with his sole strike coming in the fifth

round replay against Reading.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also scored in the frantic opening six minutes at the

Madejski Stadium when United went three up. Solskjaer got United's FA Cup

campaign off to a winning start with a typical last-gasp winner against Aston

Villa in round three.

Alan Smith has come back from injury just at the right time for United and

could be in contention for a final berth after his impressive performance

against Watford in the semi-final.


None of the Chelsea forwards have played in an FA Cup final, although

Shevchenko has played at Wembley for Ukraine against England in a friendly

before the stadium was knocked down in 2000. England won the game 2-0.

United's strikers have more experience in FA Cup finals with Rooney starring

in the 2005 showpiece at the Millennium Stadium by hitting a post and scoring in

the penalty shoot-out.

Sadly for Rooney, he ended up with a losers medal as Arsenal were the victors

5-4 on penalties.

Solskjaer is the only striker on show to have memories of the old Wembley.

The 34-year-old started the 1999 FA Cup against Newcastle as a centre forward.

He lasted only nine minutes there before Roy Keane got injured and Teddy

Sheringham was brought on.

The versatile Norwegian switched to the right flank and United went on to win

2-0 on the second leg of their treble campaign.

Solskjaer won his second FA Cup medal when he came on as a sub in the 3-0 FA

Cup Final win against Millwall at the Millennium Stadium in 2004.


Drogba offers Chelsea pace and power, giving their defence the option to send

the ball through the centre or alternatively into the channels.

When Shevchenko is on song, defences must beware as the Ukrainian can be a

destructive striker with his variety of goals from around the box.

Kalou brings additional pace which is used when defences begin to tire while

Joe Cole plays deep and has a wide array of skills.

Saha is in the mould of Drogba when he is fit and is predominately stronger on

his left side, while Rooney provides the match-winning magic and explosive


Solskjaer is lethal from the substitutes' bench with his predatory instincts

in the box and Alan Smith likes the physical challenge and is a fine hold-up



Mourinho will turn to his big guns for his first FA Cup final and the

Drogba/Shevchenko partnership will be unleashed on the United defence, fitness


Drogba will occupy spaces between the two centre-halves or in the channels

while Shevchenko will at times come deep for the ball or pounce in the box when

the chance arises.

Sir Alex Ferguson will look to extend United's record to 12 FA Cup successes

and the partnership of Rooney and Saha will be reunited providing the vulnerable

Frenchman is fit to play.

Rooney will occupy the link position or even start from the left flank and

drift into the game, with Saha playing on the last man, hoping to stretch the

game for Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to gain space.

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