Chelsea get set for pitch battle
Published 23:00 13/05/10 By John Cross
Carlo Ancelotti is taking unprecedented steps to ensure the Wembley pitch does not turn the FA Cup final into a disaster.
The Italian has asked Wembley chiefs to allow his players to train on the pitch for an hour this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's showpiece final.
Portsmouth will also be allowed to train at Wembley this afternoon but it is believed it is the first time teams have trained on the pitch the day before an FA Cup final.
But Chelsea boss Ancelotti is clearly worried about the state of the turf after the FA Cup semi-finals turned into pitch battles with both losing bosses, Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill and Tottenham's Harry Redknapp, criticising the surface.
Wembley have relaid the pitch for an ELEVENTH time since the semi-finals but there are fears that it has not helped much as the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals were played there last weekend and it was still not in good shape.
Wembley is famous around the world but the new playing surface at the £750m arena has been an embarrassment ever since the stadium re-opened two years ago.
Chelsea boss Ancelotti, whose team will stay in Hertfordshire on Friday night to accommodate their impromptu Wembley training session, yesterday diplomatically played down the fears.
Ancelotti said: "I know the pitch has changed so tomorrow we want to try and train there. I'm not worried by the pitch. The pitch is the same for both teams."
Chelsea's major FA Cup injury worry is over defender Branislav Ivanovic who is struggling with a knee injury and may miss their push for an unprecedented League and FA Cup Double.
Ancelotti, who has Portuguese full-back Paolo Ferreira on standby, said: "Maybe it will be the same line-up as the last few games. We have only one problem with Ivanovic .
"He has a problem with his knee we don't know if he will be ft. If not, we'll play Paulo."