Everton manager Roberto Martinez does not believe Chelsea needed any extra motivation from their Champions League exit ahead of today’s FA Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park.
The FA Cup is Chelsea’s only remaining chance of silverware this season after Paris Saint-Germain left Stamford Bridge on Wednesday with a 2-1 win and 4-2 aggregate triumph to deny Guus Hiddink’s men a place in the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier competition.
Everton are also attempting to garnish a frustrating campaign by booking a Wembley visit, but Martinez feels Chelsea would have made for formidable opponents irrespective of their fortunes in midweek.
He told a pre-match news conference: “It depends what way you want to look at it. If you are pessimistic, you’ll say that Chelsea will now be focused on the FA Cup. “If you are optimistic, you’ll say that they won’t now have that feel-good factor after [Wednesday’s] result.
“The reality is that Chelsea are an outstanding team and we know what they have achieved since Guus Hiddink arrived - they are unbeaten in domestic competition.
“We have faced each other twice already this season so are teams that know each other well.”
Martinez paid tribute to the job done by Hiddink, who returned to Stamford Bridge with the club hovering above the relegation zone in December having led them to the 2009 FA Cup in his first temporary spell.
He said: “Guus Hiddink’s experience, not just in the British game but other leagues, has brought a different approach but in general it is the same group of players who found it difficult at the beginning of the season that are now consistently producing good performances. “Guus’ experience on how to handle group dynamics and a dressing room in need has been very impressive.” Everton hope to have Bryan Oviedo back from the chest infection that has laid midfielders Tom Cleverley and Gareth Barry low in recent weeks. Chelsea could be without Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.
The Spain striker’s influential and goalscoring outing against PSG was cut short when he aggravated a hip problem he carried into the match with an hour played. Hazard failed to cover himself in similar glory and was booed by a section of the home support when he made way for Oscar.
Hiddink later revealed the Belgium star was struggling with a hip injury, while Branislav Ivanovic found himself defending his team-mate’s commitment to the cause.
“It’s not an excuse, but people have to think about the fact Eden started the game injured,” the defender told Chelsea’s official website.
“Did that show how committed he is? Yes. Of course when you lose a game the fans are not happy and they have to be like that. But in my opinion it was one of his best performances so far [this season]. “Diego started the game injured and did everything to be on the pitch. He did an amazing job.
“We hope it’s nothing serious. We have what is now like a final for us [against Everton] in a couple of days and we hope everything is good.”
John Terry could once again miss out with a hamstring problem, the Chelsea skipper having scored a last-gasp equaliser in January’s 3-3 draw with Everton at Stamford Bridgea good record against United in the F.A. cup, having won more games than they have lost in the competition.
TODAY - EMIRATES FA CUP
Everton vs. Chelsea SS5, 8.30PM
Arsenal vs. Watford SS5, 4.30PM
Man Utd vs. West Ham SS5, 7PM