Ashley Cole is optimistic about his prospects of reaching a seventh FA Cup final and has warned Chelsea FC's last-four opponents Tottenham Hotspur FC that "there are not a lot of losers" in the Blues squad.
With a record six FA Cup winners' medals to his name, Cole is out on his own when it comes to individual success in the oldest domestic cup competition in the world. The England left-back spoke to UEFA.com ahead of Sunday's semi-final with Tottenham about the extra motivation of a London derby, and why he believes Chelsea, with whom he lifted the trophy in 2007, 2009 and 2010, have the edge.
"Playing against Spurs in the semi-final is going to be a great game, there's going to be a great atmosphere," said Cole, who was also a member of the side that eliminated Tottenham in the 2007 quarter-finals.
"We have had joy over the seasons playing against Spurs. But on a bigger pitch it is going to be harder to stop the likes of [Gareth] Bale, [Aaron] Lennon and [Rafael] van der Vaart. Spurs have done well, Harry [Redknapp] has done very well there. Their players seemed to push on and progress this season, but we've just got to know it is our chance now."
Cole, 31, was a doubt for Sunday's trip to Wembley because of an ankle injury yet has been declared fit by interim boss Roberto Di Matteo. Now he says the overriding feeling in the Chelsea camp is one of determination, and insists their experience of this situation gives them an advantage.
"It is one game away from being in the FA Cup final, and we know what it's like to win, we know the feeling," the defender added. "Not just me, but a lot of players here have fond memories of the FA Cup. We also know what it is like to lose, and there are not a lot of losers in this squad and in this team. We don't like losing. Of course we know how it is against a rival team – it is going to be a tough game – but we think we are good enough to win it."
This, of course, is not the only last-four encounter facing the Stamford Bridge outfit as Di Matteo's charges have the daunting prospect of a UEFA Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona, starting on home soil on Wednesday. "We can't think about that," explained Cole. "We've just got to go in and try to get to the final of the FA Cup. I have had great memories of the FA Cup and I want to go back to another final."
Fernando Torres, meanwhile, has never got further than the fourth round before and is excited by the prospect of running out at Wembley. "It'll be the first time I play at Wembley with an English team," the forward told UEFA.com. "I have played there with the national team, but never with Liverpool or Chelsea.
"Tottenham have a good side and the coach has been doing great work to get the best out of his players. In the two [league] matches against them we managed to get two draws. It will be a very balanced match. We have been fighting against Tottenham for a Champions League spot, and now for the cup. It's a nice tie. I think both teams are pretty similar, and whoever is luckier in terms of the performance of their players will have a good chance to win."
There is sure to be no love lost in the other Wembley semi-final either, as Liverpool FC and Everton FC meet in a Merseyside derby on Saturday lunchtime. The two clubs have pedigree in this competition: the Reds' seven titles edge out the Toffees' five, and they are both targeting a 14th final appearance. Liverpool have the fonder recent memories, having collected the trophy in 2006, while Everton have contested just one final since they last won the cup in 1995 – the 2-1 defeat by Ashley Cole's Chelsea in 2009.
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