Cahill keen to avoid more Wembley blues
Published 08:51 14/04/12 By Martin Lipton
Gary Cahill has vowed to banish the Wembley semi-final memories that have haunted him for the past 12 months.
The England defender was at the heart of a Bolton team many tipped to beat Stoke at last season's final-four stage.
Instead, Cahill left the Wembley pitch dejected and devastated after a 5-0 mauling (pictured) that created mental scars which have still not healed.
On Sunday, the central-back gets the chance to put the record straight as he and new club Chelsea collide with London rivals Spurs under the Arch.
And Cahill admitted he has a score to settle with the venue and the competition.
“I’ve still got no idea what happened last year. Even now, when I look at that game I can’t say why it happened," he said.
“It wasn’t that we [Bolton] froze. It was a situation, going into the game, where everything seemed to be going really well for us.
“Then we got to Wembley and it was as if everybody decided to have a bad day at once. It was a freak result in a freak game.
“It’s not something I’ll ever remember fondly. It hurt at the time and it still hurts me now.
"I’ve got a chance to put that right and I mean to take it.”
Cahill may have anticipated being a first choice at Chelsea and bolstering his Euro 2012 credentials, but instead he has had to accept being part of a defensive rotation also featuring John Terry, David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic.
Ironically, Spurs were also keen to sign him, but Cahill has no regrets over the choice he made as he prepares himself for a 10-day, four-match run that will determine Chelsea’s campaign.
After Sunday's game, Chelsea host Barcelona in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final, make a tricky trip to Arsenal and then play the second leg against Barca at the Nou Camp on Tuesday week.
Cahill added: “We’re in a positive frame of mind and have had a lot of good results recently. We’re confident because we’re playing very well.
“But we realise how big the next games are for us, starting on Sunday and then Wednesday - it is the defining moment of the season.
“When you sign for a big club you expect to be challenging for trophies and that’s what we are doing. To be part of a team that wins trophies is fantastic and if I can pick up my first one that would be amazing.
“We have two massive semi-final hurdles to get over first before we can even start thinking of that. It will be exciting for me to play and put right those feelings I still have from last year.”
The match pitches two very different managers against each other.
Cahill believes the understated manner of interim gaffer Roberto Di Matteo has made a difference after the madness that enveloped the last days of the man who signed him, Andre Villas-Boas.
“He is a calming manager, but he puts his points across as well and says what he feels,” said Cahill.
“The lads have taken to him well. He has been in and around the set-up for a while and knows how everything works. He’s a good guy and a good manager as well.
“We know Spurs are a hard team to play against. Harry is a fantastic manager and turned them into a real force, so we know it is going to be a tough game because they’ve got lots of players who can hurt you.
“That’s obvious with players like Gareth Bale but both the wingers are very fast and their midfielders are superb as well. They’ve got a lot of people who can hurt us.
“But we’ve got players who can hurt them as well. Fernando Torres is playing well. Since I came to the club he’s worked so hard and his general contribution to the game has been really good.
“It was just the goals that were lacking but he’s started to score of late as well. If you can get Fernando Torres on good scoring form there’s not too many better about in the game.”