Feet up for Frank on Thursday
Wed, 20 Feb 2013 15:29:00
Wigan midfielder Paul Scharner is hoping to help lead the Latics to Wembley, with his side just 90 minutes away from an FA Cup semi-final place.
Scharner returned for his second spell at Wigan on transfer deadline day when he joined on loan from Hamburg until the end of the season and he has made three appearances so far.
Wigan will face either Everton or Oldham in the quarter-finals and Scharner says he is desperate to run out at Wembley in Wigan colours in the semi-final.
"At this stage of the cup, everybody should just enjoy the moment because we are only one game away from a Wembley semi-final now, and obviously then it's only 90 minutes to the final," he told the Wigan Observer.
"I remember very well getting to the final of the Carling Cup back in 2006 in my first year with Wigan. The game was played at the Millennium Stadium down in Cardiff, from which was okay I suppose but it wasn't Wembley Stadium.
"Everybody wants to play at Wembley whether you are from England or overseas, and it is a big target for me this year.
"Wherever you go in the world, everyone knows about Wembley Stadium - and it would be a dream for me to play there for Wigan Athletic.
"A lot of people thought we might struggle at Huddersfield, but I was absolutely satisfied with the way we played. We started very brightly, scored two good goals and although we struggled a bit in the second half, it was a clear win in the end.
"It was very important for us to play our possession game and not allow them into the game. If you drop your standards even a little then you are struggling, but we managed to play our football on a difficult pitch and the result was fantastic."
His team-mate Jordi Gomez is also hopeful that Wigan can continue their run in the cup.
"The players who are playing in the cup competitions have done a great job so far this season and we are giving our best to get the top results," he said.
"I hope we can continue our run in the cup and I also hope we can keep performing the way that we did against Huddersfield because it was a very enjoyable game to play in. The winning feeling can also help us to get results in the Premier League."
Gomez was also full of praise for the Latics' fans that travelled to Huddersfield for Sunday's fifth round game.
He said: "The fans were brilliant and we could see that they were very excited before the game. That's always a nice feeling to see them happy even before we have played and of course after the game they were even happier.
"When they are cheering and clapping like they did for 90 minutes then it is a big help in getting the results that we want."
Lampard will have to wait to score his 200th goal for the Blues as interim manager Rafael Benitez has chosen to rest the midfielder in midweek.
The England international's Stamford Bridge future may be in doubt but the 34-year-old's goal scoring prowess is not, having fired five goals in his last six games for the Blues.
That run has seen Lampard move just three goals shy of Bobby Tambling's all-time record of 202 for Chelsea - a target Benitez fully expects Lampard to pass before his contract runs out at the end of the season.
However, the midfielder will not be able to add to that haul on Thursday as Benitez plans to rest him for the last-32 tie with Sparta, for which the west Londoners boast a one-goal lead from last week's first leg in the Czech capital.
"Lampard will not be in the squad tomorrow because we have to manage it a little bit," said Benitez, with Sunday's trip to second-place Manchester City clearly in mind.
"If he can score a lot of goals, it will be fantastic for him and will be fantastic for us.
"Everybody knows that he is close. I am sure they will try to help if they have a chance. If we have a penalty, he can take it and things like this.
"But the main thing is he's doing well, scoring goals. We have more competition now and that's good for me. It's a problem, but a good one because we have too many games, so to have many players available is good."
Lampard has impressed Benitez since his November arrival, scoring a goal in almost every other game under the interim boss.
His importance to the side is clear and similar to the role played by Steven Gerrard during the Spaniard's time at the Liverpool helm.
"In terms of liking to score goals and their timing getting into the box is really good, that's their similarity," Benitez said.
"Both are offensive midfielders who can score every game. They can take penalties, free-kicks and can still score in open play. They are two great players.
"It's important to have these kind of players, they are good professionals, who train properly and stay fit. He's doing that so I have to manage him."
Along with Lampard, Ivanovic will also be rested for Thursday's meeting with the Czech side, while Chelsea will have to do without the cup-tied Demba Ba.
"At the moment this is the priority as we play Sparta Prague tomorrow," Benitez said.
"One game at a time and that is the most important game we have to play.
"I was not just analysing their players, but the performance of the team.
"I think the team had a good idea about what they wanted to do. The manager did a good job.
"The shape of the team, movement and patterns were good and we were talking about the before. We know it will not be an easy game. For sure."
The immediate focus may be on success with Chelsea but speculation is mounting over Benitez potentially making a move to Real Madrid, with reports suggesting he called them his sporting "sweetheart".
"In Spain, translation always changes something so I never said 'sweetheart'," Benitez said.
"I have a lot of respect for Real Madrid because they have a manager in place, but I have a job to do at Chelsea and a contract here.
"My job now is to do my best for Chelsea so it is very clear."