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Saturday, 13 May, 2000, 22:06 GMT 23:06 UK
Chelsea squad guide

Chelsea's strength this season has been this defence

Goalkeepers

1 - Ed de Goey, Dutch, age 33



Ed de Goey
International goalkeeper who signed from Feyenoord in 1997 for 2.25m.

Has huge presence and agility and has beaten Peter Bonetti's longstanding record for the most clean sheets in a season at Chelsea.

13 - Kevin Hitchcock, English, 37

Reserve goalkeeper and long-term servant to Chelsea.

Like Wise, Hitchcock can remember the old days when Stamford Bridge was a giant open bowl of a ground, the team was predominately British and the trophy cabinet empty.

23 - Carlo Cudicini, Italian, 26

Reserve keeper who joined on loan last summer but has been restricted by De Goey's continued good form.

Defenders

2 - Dan Petrescu, Romanian, 32

Talented international who can play at right-back or in midfield - or as a wing-back if tactics demand such a role.

Has often been linked with a move from Stamford Bridge but remains a key member of the Chelsea squad.

Signed by Glenn Hoddle from Sheffield Wednesday in 1995 for 2.3m, he repaid the former Blues boss by scoring against his England side in France 98.

3 - Celestine Babayaro, Nigerian, 21

Young left-back who arrived from Anderlecht in 1997 for 2.25m.

Hard-working, fast, aggressive and skilful, he has turned him some fine performances for the Blues.

This season has been marred by an ongoing row between club and country before, during and after the African Cup of Nations.

4 - Jes Hogh, Danish, 34

Defender who cost just 333,000 from Fenerbahce last summer despite having won over 50 caps for his country.

Experienced in European football but has fallen down the central defensive pecking order after the signing of Emerson Thome.

5 - Frank Leboeuf, French, 32



Frank Leboeuf
The Frenchman has spent four seasons at Stamford Bridge since moving from Strasbourg for 2.5m.

A solid defender, he has formed a confident partnership with fellow World Cup winner Desailly.

But Leboeuf's real strength is the ability to turn defence into attack with one raking cross-field pass.

He is also Chelsea's regular penalty-taker and the only real doubts about him surround his temperament, which can be explosive if things do not go to plan.

6 - Marcel Desailly, French, 31

Cost 4.6m from Milan on the eve of France 98, where Desailly and current club-mates Lebouef and Deschamps all won winner's medals.

Desailly has a claim to be the world's finest central defender and since the arrival of "The Rock" Chelsea have become one of the most solid sides in the Premiership.

Physical and aggressive but also fair, Desailly is very capable coming forward having played in Serie A as a midfielder.

14 - Graeme Le Saux, English, 31

The England international left-back has not played since October although he is reported to be tantalisingly close to a comeback.

Sold by Chelsea to Blackburn in 1993 before returning to Stamford Bridge for 5m four years later having won the Premiership at Ewood Park.

Since returning to London he has played for his country at France 98, but has also been involved in controversial incidents such as his infamous spat with Robbie Fowler.

15 - Mario Melchiot, Dutch, 23

A free transfer from Ajax last summer, Melchiot has recently enjoyed a spell in the team playing at right-back but is at home anywhere in midfield or defence.

17 - Albert Ferrer, Spanish, 29



Albert Ferrer
The Spaniard was a bargain costing 2.2m from Barcelona days before France 98.

Surplus to the requirements of Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal at the Nou Camp, the Catalan had won five league titles in 15 years at Barcelona.

This experience has been invaulable in one of the Premiership's best defences although Ferrer's an unfussy style means he has not always been given the credit he deserves.

21 - Bernard Lambourde, French, 29

French reserve defender who can play at right-back or in the centre, he joined from French side Bordeaux for 1.6m in 1997.

His appearances have been restricted by the excellent form of his fellow French central defenders and Ferrer but he looks reliable when called upon.

26 - John Terry, English, 19

Another young English player to have struggled to make a first team impact although he was the club's Young Player of the Year in 1998-99. Loaned out to Nottingham Forest this season.

29 - Neil Clement, English, 21

Another youngster who rarely figures in the first team.

30 - Emerson Thome, Brazilian, 27

Added Brazilian to the list of countries represented at Stamford Bridge when he arrived from Sheffield Wednesday at Christmas this season for 2.7m.

Has provided cover for the first choice central defenders but is cup-tied for Wembley.

33 Luca Percassi, Italian, 19

Arrived with Sam Dalla Bonna from the Atalanta club in 1997, aged just 17. Still has time to prove himself a bargain signing at Stamford Bridge.

34 - Jon Harley, English, 21



Jon Harley
Probably the finest young English prospect to have broken into the team alongside the international line-up, Harley benefitted from the absences of Le Saux and Babayaro to make a massive impact on the team.

Another talented left-back who can also play in midfield, he came close to a dramatic 30-yard goal against Villa when the sides drew 0-0 at Villa Park this season.

Midfielders

7 - Didier Deschamps, French, 31

After being derided by fellow Frenchman Eric Cantona as a "water-carrier" this double European Cup-winner with a World Cup medal has had the last laugh.

Gianluca Vialli signed Deschamps for 3m last summer from Juventus, and he has formed a pint-sized but powerful partnership with Dennis Wise, particularly in the Champions League.

8 - Gustavo Poyet, Uruguayan, 32

One of the Premiership bargains of the past five years, the Uruguayan was a free transfer from Real Zaragoza in 1997.

His first season was wrecked by a long-term injury but he returned to score some priceless goals for the Blues and become a cult hero at Stamford Bridge.

The semi-final matchwinner against Newcastle has proved particularly important this season at a club which has struggled to score goals.

11 - Dennis Wise, English, 33



Dennis Wise
Blues skipper Wise would love to mark his tenth season at Stamford Bridge by winning the cup for the third time.

His first success was 12 years ago for Wimbledon before a 1.6m move across London.

Wise is now a more mature performer but still possesses a combative style of play and notoriously short temper.

One of his more embarrassing disciplinary moments of madness came against Villa, when he produced a nightmarish injury time challenge despite the score being 4-1 to Chelsea.

16 - Roberto Di Matteo, Italian, 29

Midfielder who holds the record for the fastest Wembley FA Cup final goal - a striker after 42 seconds against Middlesbrough in 1997.

Di Matteo joined from Lazio for 4.9m in 1996 and quickly became an effective performer in the Premiership.

Recent injuries have disrupted his career while the battle to win a midfield place at Stamford Bridge is now tougher than ever.

18 - Gabriele Ambrosetti, Italian, 26

Signed from Vicenza for 3.5 million last year and made his debut against Villa last August.

A winger who plays on the rare occasions when Vialli wants to employ an out-and-out wide man in his midfield, he is pacey going forward and a fine crosser of the ball.

20 - Jody Morris, English, 21

Young midfielder who has emerged from the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge to successfully win a place in the first team's midfield - at least on the familar rotational basis.

Morris is a confident performer and although he has expressed his frustration with the policy of bringing in foreign household names he does not look out of place alongside them.

24 - Sam Dalla Bona, Italian, 18

Taken from Italian club Atalanta's youth set-up despite never signing a professional contract in Italy. forms. Goalscoring midfielder who has starred in Chelsea's reserve team.

Forwards

9 - Chris Sutton, English, 27

The club record 10m striker from Blackburn has had a tough first season at the club.

This was not the first time Sutton has been faced with a large price tag, but after his 5m move to Blackburn in 1994 the team played to his strengths, firing in a succession of tempting crosses for the aggressive forward.

This has not happened in Vialli's side where play tends to be concentrated in central areas and Sutton has suffered as a result.

10 - Pierluigi Casiraghi, Italian, 31

Cost 5.4m from Lazio in 1998 but has not played since November of that year because of a long-term knee injury.

19 - Tore Andre Flo, Norwegian, 26



Tore Andre Flo
Ask Villa fans who they least want to see line up for Chelsea and it will probably be this 300,000 signing from Brann Bergen, who joined Chelsea in 1997.

Flo has a Norwegian girlfriend who is reportedly a Villa fan but this has not stopped the striker scoring regularly against the side from Birmingham.

Tall and strong, Flo is also a skilful performer when the ball is at ankle level - there will be huge sighs of relief from the Midlands if he falls victim to Vialli's rotation policy.

22 - Mark Nicholls, English, 22

Joined Chelsea as a trainee and has struggled to make a first team impact, spending a period on loan to Reading.

25 - Gianfranco Zola, Italian, 33



Gianfranco Zola
One of Chelsea's most gifted performers and frequently a crucial matchwinner since his arrival from Parma for 4.5m in 1996.

A regular scorer in previous games against Villa, although his most famous goal for the club was the one which won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1998.

Possesses experience, vision and the talent to unhinge the best defences, although he has not been a prolific goalscorer this season.

28 - Robert Wolleaston, English, 20

Young striker who can also play in midfield and has occasionally figured in Vialli's first team this season.

31 - George Weah, Liberian, 33



George Weah
The former World Player of the Year was brought in as a loan signing from Milan in January this year and scored on his Stamford Bridge debut against Spurs.

Arguably the best African player in the history of the game, Weah possesses terrific pace, superb aerial ability and the close control and finishing power required to become a top international striker.

There were reports two years ago that he grew up in Liberia as a long distance Villa fan.

32 Mikael Forssell, Finnish, 19

Talented young striker but unlikely to appear at Wembley after loan spell at Crystal Palace.

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13 May 00 | FA Cup
Aston Villa squad guide