O'Neill eager for second cup final

09 April 2010 08:14
Martin O'Neill has revealed the determination of the Aston Villa players to reach a second final of the campaign, ahead of their FA Cup semi.

Villa will lock horns with Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea side in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley as they look to avenge a 7-1 defeat in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.

But of equal importance to O'Neill is to emulate Villa's Carling Cup final appearance earlier in the season.

He said: "The appetite for this game is even stronger having been to Wembley once this season. It is a great incentive for us.

"I am delighted to be going back again even though I don't necessarily agree with semi-finals being played at Wembley.

"We lost the Carling Cup final and you could see by the second-half performance in the FA Cup quarter-final at Reading that there was a renewed determination to get back there again.

"Of course, we face Chelsea. That won't be easy, particularly after what happened a fortnight ago, but the players are ready to go.

"We certainly regained some lost confidence by winning at Bolton last weekend - and not conceding a goal helped us too.

"We know how difficult the task is ahead but we are ready for it."

O'Neill was among those critical of the Wembley pitch when Villa lost 2-1 in the Carling Cup final to Manchester United.

He said: "It came in for a lot of criticism, and deservedly so, because it was a showpiece final and you would expect a bit better.

"But, as the players have remarked, we have played on worse surfaces this season and it has been a particularly difficult season with it being a long winter and that has affected pitches."

O'Neill reiterated he is unconcerned by the remarks from Chelsea skipper John Terry that Villa tire in games after about an hour following the Blues' handsome win two weeks ago.

He said: "I just think it was an idle comment to make and winning a game of football gives you the right to say whatever you want and people will believe it.

"I thought it was an idle comment and statistically it didn't stack up."

Villa defender Richard Dunne withdrew from training yesterday with a sore Achilles but O'Neill is still optimistic the centre-back will be fit for the Wembley showdown.

The former Manchester City player has been troubled by the problem in recent weeks and Villa would want to be able to call upon his vast experience.

Midfielder James Milner has resumed training after being rested for the game at Bolton last week, also with an Achilles problem, and is expected to be fit.

The club's joint £12million record signing was rested for last week's 1-0 away win over Bolton.

Source: Team_Talk