RAMIRES: SPECIAL SILVER

Ramires had every reason to fall in love with the FA Cup last season.

His first involvement in the competition the previous year had been short-lived by recent Chelsea standards, as we exited at the fourth-round stage after a penalty shoot-out against Everton.

There was no stopping us in 2012 however and Ramires was our joint FA Cup topscorer with four goals on the way to lifting the trophy at Wembley.

With the defence of the silverware beginning today, the 25-year-old reflects on one of his most memorable competition campaigns so far, beginning with that 2-1 final win over Liverpool which is a game hard to equal in his career to date.

Though suspension kept him out of the Champions League final in Munich a couple of weeks later, Ramires was in the starting line-up at Wembley, running away with Juan Mata’s pass and firing the Blues into the lead with a near-post finish after only 10 minutes.

‘It was really special because it was a final against a big club at Wembley,’ Ramires says.

‘I try to shoot in the right place and I did that time because the goalkeeper went to the wrong side. He never expected me to shoot on that side of the goal.’

Ramires also scored at Wembley in the 5-1 semi-final rout of Tottenham, his flick over Carlo Cudicini making it 3-1 to bring some breathing space. His other two FA Cup goals came on third-round weekend when, like this season, we began against a south coast side, that time Portsmouth at home who were beaten 4-0.

One of the midfielder’s goals that day hinted at what was to come so famously later in the season at Barcelona. He raced clear and floated the ball over the Pompey keeper.

‘It was a beautiful goal but it is not like I look for beautiful goals, the only thing I want is to score goals,’ says the twice winner of Chelsea goal of the season.

‘But it was a special competition last season.We are trying to do well in all the competitions with this one but it is special when you win. Now every team that plays against us in the FA Cup, they want to beat us because we are the champions of that competition.’

In order to prevent Southampton from doing just that at St Mary’s this afternoon, more of the same from last season is very much on order with the athletic Brazilian.

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: SOUTHAMPTON V CHELSEA – PART TWO

05.01.2013

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: SOUTHAMPTON V CHELSEA – PART TWO

Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are joined by former player Clive Walker to complete their build-up to FA Cup round three…

04.01.2013

BENITEZ: DIFFERENT OPTIONS

Our defence of the FA Cup begins tomorrow afternoon on the south coast when we take on Southampton at St Mary’s, with Rafael Benitez confirming he is taking every competition seriously…

04.01.2013

DEMBA BA: FIRST WORDS

Demba Ba spoke to the official Chelsea website for the first time before meeting his team-mates and training at Cobham on Friday…

04.01.2013

LAST FEW SWANSEA SEMI FINAL TICKETS AVAILABLE

There are still a few tickets remaining for our Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Swansea City, which could see Demba Ba make his home Chelsea debut…

04.01.2013

BA TRANSFER COMPLETED

Chelsea Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of Demba Ba for an undisclosed fee…

04.01.2013

YOUTH TEAM FIXTURES RELEASED

The league fixtures for the second half of the youth team’s season have been announced…

04.01.2013

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: BA ON SCREEN

Chelsea TV was the first channel to interview Demba Ba after the striker signed for Chelsea on Friday morning…

04.01.2013

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: SOUTHAMPTON V CHELSEA – PART ONE

After four consecutive league games, it is two cup matches in a row for the Blues, beginning with the start of this season’s FA Cup campaign…

04.01.2013

SWANSEA AWAY SEMI-FINAL TICKET DETAILS ANNOUNCED

The ticket selling arrangements for our Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Swansea City have now been announced…

04.01.2013

NEW DATE ANNOUNCED FOR SOUTHAMPTON LEAGUE GAME

Our Barclays Premier League home game against Southampton has been rescheduled, and will now take place on Wednesday 16 January, kick-off 7.45pm…

04.01.2013

MATCHDAY TRAVEL NEWS

Supporters heading to our FA Cup third round game against Southampton at St Mary’s may find the following information useful…

03.01.2013

MUSEUM SLEEPOVER SET FOR NEXT MONTH

Following the success of previous events, our first Museum Sleepover of 2013 will take place on Saturday 23 February…

03.01.2013

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: MARIN’S DISAPPOINTMENT

Marko Marin spoke to Chelsea TV following his first start in the Barclays Premier League on Wednesday night, admitting it was a night to forget as we suffered defeat to local rivals Queens Park Rangers.

03.01.2013

LOAN INTEREST

The dawning of the new year brings an end to some loan spells while some continue, and here, the official Chelsea website looks at how those players plying their trade elsewhere during the first half

03.01.2013

DECEMBER GOAL OF THE MONTH NOW LIVE

December’s Goal of the Month competition is now open, with the opportunity for you to win all three Chelsea 2012/13 shirts.

03.01.2013

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: MARIN REFLECTS

Marko Marin spoke to Chelsea TV in the wake of the match against QPR, his full league debut for Chelsea…

03.01.2013

GILES SMITH’S THURSDAY THOUGHTS

Having watched the seasonal festivities grind to a halt from his seat in Matthew Harding Stand, columnist and season ticket holder Giles Smith gives his take on the new year defeat…

03.01.2013

BENAYOUN BACK AT THE BRIDGE

Yossi Benayoun has completed his loan spell at West Ham United, and returns to Chelsea today (Thursday).

02.01.2013

FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: LEVELS LOW

Having watched the final one of the four games over the crowded holiday period prove to be a test too far for his squad, Rafael Benitez said tiredness may have played a part in the

02.01.2013

MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1

Chelsea succumbed to a first home defeat against neighbours Queens Park Rangers since 1983, thanks to a late goal from Shaun Wright-Phillips.

02.01.2013

TEAM NEWS: CHELSEA V QUEENS PARK RANGERS

Rafael Benitez rotates the three players behind Fernando Torres and the left-back position…

02.01.2013

MATCHDAY PROGRAMME NOTES

You can read tonight’s matchday programme notes online…

BENITEZ: DIFFERENT OPTIONS

Our defence of the FA Cup begins tomorrow afternoon on the south coast when we take on Southampton at St Mary’s, with Rafael Benitez confirming he is taking every competition seriously.

The club announced the signing of Demba Ba from Newcastle United earlier today, and the manager stated that the Senegalese striker is being considered for selection.

On the arrival of Demba Ba
Having already scored 13 goals this season in a Newcastle side which have struggled, there is little doubt our latest acquisition is more than capable of lightening the goalscoring burden on the likes of Fernando Torres and Juan Mata.

With the fixtures beginning to pile up, and Daniel Sturridge moving to Liverpool earlier this week, Benitez was eager to get a striker in as quickly as possible.

‘He’s a good player and has proven he can score goals in the Premier League,’ said the Spaniard. ‘He has experience and we were looking for a player who could play right now as we have a game every three days.

‘We couldn’t be waiting and I believe he’s the type of player who can do well in the Premier League from the first day.

‘We have to be sure we have enough options in attack. We now have a different option with a player who can maybe play with Fernando but also on his own, it’s a different option for me as a manager which is good.

‘He can score goals, hold the ball, pass, has good movement and is good in the air; as a striker he can do everything you are looking for. He trained today, he is fine and he has a chance of playing tomorrow.

‘I had a conversation with him this morning and we were talking about what I am expecting from him.

‘We needed a striker right now, we’ve signed a good one, we will see with the rest of the squad but we are happy with the first signing.’

On squad news
The FA Cup has been a source of great joy for the club in recent years, with four triumphs since the final moved back to Wembley in 2007.

Going into tomorrow’s game, Benitez is shorn of two experienced players, although he has been boosted by the news that both Victor Moses and John Mikel Obi, who are heading off to the African Cup of Nations immediately after the game, are available.

‘Petr [Cech] did a light training session, we will see but it will probably be about two or three weeks, I don’t think we will change the estimations now,’ said Benitez.

‘With [John] Terry, it depends on the reactions, today he did a little bit more with the team. He’s closer but we don’t know how close, but it’s positive because he’s training.’

‘Moses and Mikel have to be there on Saturday, so they can play with us and are available. They have a training camp in Portugal.’

On his rotation policy
Wednesday’s 1-0 home defeat against Queens Park Rangers was our first defeat in the league since the beginning of December, and Benitez spoke about the reaction to the result, particularly having come under fire in sections of the media for making four changes to the team.

‘We were rotating the team and winning games and everybody was praising the decisions. You cannot be criticised and praised for the same thing,’ he explained.

‘We were rotating players because we were playing so many games. It was good because we had more players and we were using the squad. We are professional, we know how our players are and we trust the players.

‘It was necessary. Before I arrived we had 11 players who had been playing more than 60 per cent of the minutes, they couldn’t keep doing that because of the risk of injuries and tiredness.

‘Two or three players against QPR were more tired than the others and that’s maybe why we didn’t play with the same tempo that we wanted to.’

NEWSFLASH: TERRY AND CECH TO MISS CUP CLASH

Rafael Benitez has stated that John Terry and Petr Cech will miss tomorrow’s FA Cup third round game against Southampton at St Mary’s.

He also explained that Victor Moses and John Mikel Obi are available for selection, although they will join up with the Nigeria squad ahead of the African Cup of Nations after the game.

New signing Demba Ba is fit and available for selection.

More to follow…

DEMBA BA: FIRST WORDS

Striker Demba Ba completed his transfer from Newcastle on Friday morning, and is available for Saturday’s trip to Southampton in the FA Cup.

He spoke to the official Chelsea website for the first time before meeting his team-mates and training at Cobham, and told us he is raring to go. The Senegalese is also available for our Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Swansea City on Wednesday.

Demba, welcome to Chelsea. What are your first impressions?

It feels good to be here, I’m very happy and very proud. This training ground is massive, it has good facilities and will only help my work.

It was important for me, and for Newcastle, to get my future sorted and now we can move on. Now they have the whole month to buy someone and for me as well, the sooner the better. Now I am here I just need to get settled in.

Interest in you was well-reported. Was it a difficult decision in joining Chelsea?

When the club who won the Champions League wants you, the decision making is very easy. This club is massive and that’s something that helped the decision a lot. It was not a hard one.

I remember the last game we played. It was tough. They dominated the whole game against us and we lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. When you see a team coming to Newcastle and winning 3-0 like they did last season, you know it will be hard to face teams like that. Now I am on the other side I will be happy to do the same to the other teams.

I am also happy to be back in London. It means everything to be here. I think I will not live far from the training ground. I am a city boy, but I have two kids and a wife, and it is different.

Do you know anyone at the club already?

I know Eden Hazard a little bit. I met him through a friend and [goalkeeping coach] Christophe Lollichon as well. I met him some times in France, so there are a couple of faces I know a little bit.

Your career has been an incredible journey, but you seem settled in the Premier League?

In two years now in the Premier League I have learned a lot and I keep learning. I just want to keep playing football and trying to score goals. I try to be strong mentally. This is a big part of the success of someone. If you are strong mentally then you have good chances to succeed.

Yesterday I was looking back and smiling to myself, saying “Yes, I’ve done it.” I feel very proud, not only for me but the people who supported me over the years – my agent for instance who has been there since I was 15, my mum as well because when I skipped school she was afraid but today I am very proud for my family and today.

I never lost belief in my football though, never. You keep working and things come. Rewards always come.

You also settled in quickly at both your previous clubs in England…

Hopefully I can do the same here, it would be good. This club is at another level, it isn’t West Ham or Newcastle. They are both big clubs with a strong history, but Chelsea is Chelsea and you cannot compare. It will be easier with world-class players around, who make the football look so easy.

I hope they can create a lot of chances for me when I play. I have watched some replays of some games to see how the team is playing and hopefully it will be good.

Is it fair to say you play better as a lone striker than in a pair?

I don’t know if it’s fair to say. It doesn’t matter if you have one, two or three forwards. You always have someone supporting you and more than one player thinking of scoring goals.

When you play with two both will try to score goals, and the percentage chance can increase automatically. With another striker I can do a bit more around the pitch and not just be focused in the penalty area. With only one striker it can be good also because you have wingers helping you. It really doesn’t matter for me.

Are you fit and available to play for this weekend’s FA Cup game against Southampton?

I am fit. I played Southampton recently and we had a bad experience. We had a bad game from the first to the last minute, so hopefully if I am part of the squad it will be another story.

Chelsea TV will also be airing their first interview with Ba this evening, from 6.30pm. Tickets for Swansea on Wednesday are still available.