DIDIER DROGBA delivered when it mattered most.
The former Chelsea striker, rated by Frank Lampard as the best centre-forward he played with during his career, was a monster for the big occasion.
Drogba scored in four FA Cup finals for Chelsea at Wembley and added a free-kick in the 2008 Carling Cup final defeat against Tottenham.
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The bigger the stage, the bigger the performance.
Tomorrow, when Chelsea head back to Wembley to face Spurs in the FA Cup semi-final with Diego Costa up front, they need their main man to turn up.
Costa drew a blank at Wembley two years ago when Chelsea reached the Capital One Cup final in Jose Mourinho’s second season back at the club.
They won it anyway, beating Mauricio Pochettino’s side 2-0 to lift their first trophy under the Special One following his 2013 return to Stamford Bridge.
Costa, the snarling menace in Chelsea’s forward line at the start of the season, has suddenly gone cold.
They need the 28-year-old Spaniard back onside.
He was the star of the show when the Blues really got going under Antonio Conte at the start of this campaign, smashing in goals as they took the Premier League by storm.
The striker had scored 14 by the turn of the year as they aimed to win the Premier League title in Conte’s first season in West London.
Keeping Costa sweet for long periods has always been a problem.
Last weekend he was kicking off with anything that moved during their 2-0 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Even Conte, the man who got the best out of him in the first half of the season, is struggling to channel Costa’s aggression.
Since the turn of the year, the striker has scored just four times in all competitions for his club.
They need a bit more out of him, starting at Wembley tomorrow evening. In the background his agent Jorge Mendes is meddling again, trying to persuade one of the Chinese Super League clubs to sign him in the summer.
Costa’s head was turned during the January transfer window, when he was offered eye-watering amounts of money to prise him away from Chelsea.
The wheels are in motion for another bid after this season.
And the signs are that, this time, the Blues will let him leave.
Chelsea will have other targets to pursue in the summer, with a new striker one of Conte’s priorities as he rebuilds for a fresh crack at the Champions League.
When everything is going well for Costa, when he is scoring goals and the idol of the crowd, Chelsea overlook the bad habits.
He is fond of a Brazilian BBQ, a late night and loud music with his partying friends, but successive Chelsea managers have tended to shrug their shoulders.
His goalscoring record is excellent, even if he is a magnet for trouble whenever he crosses that white line.
Costa was scrapping with United players last Sunday, distracted by the intensity of the occasion and the stakes for both clubs.
The player, just like his club, came off second best.
They have had a chance to refocus, with boss Conte given a full week to prepare for his debut FA Cup semi-final.
Tottenham are up for this, eager to prove to the league leaders that they are Chelsea’s equal as the season enters its final weeks.
Inevitably, they will be winding Costa up a treat.
In nearly three years in West London, the Chelsea forward has scored only once against Spurs.
Wembley would be a very good place for Costa to change all of that.
Don’t deal in Jack… unless he rolls back
IT is difficult to make a case for Arsenal rewarding Jack Wilshere with a new contract when the midfielder has failed to complete another full season.
His latest unfortunate injury, a cracked fibula sustained in a challenge with Harry Kane at Tottenham last weekend, has ruled him out for the rest of the season.
His cheerleaders are convinced another £80,000-a-week salary, plus £50,000 on top for each appearance in an Arsenal shirt, somehow protects an asset.
The reality is that Wilshere, whatever God-given talents he has as a footballer, was allowed out on loan by Arsene Wenger because he did not think he was good enough to get into the Arsenal side.
The 25-year-old could barely get around the pitch during Bournemouth’s defeat by Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium and was overwhelmed by Tottenham’s midfield.
By letting Wilshere’s contract run down, the Gunners will lose nothing by making the midfielder wait a few more months before they start talks.
When he proves his fitness and form, he will have earned the right to talk about another new deal.
Clem’s match made in Hull
THE pressure at the bottom of the Premier League is big — but Paul Clement added to it by claiming it is now down to Swansea or Hull for the last relegation place.
With 15 points to play for, even ninth-placed Southampton (40 points) are not mathematically safe from the drop.
Instead of creating uncertainty at Saints, Watford, Stoke, Leicester, West Ham, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, the Swansea chief has turned it into a 50:50 with Hull.
When that happens, the chances of staying up start getting very slim.
PFA flak is unfair
THE PFA must be sick and tired of people claiming that the voting for individual and team awards is done in January.
Nominations are actually taken by former Tottenham and West Ham midfielder Paul Allen in March, when he travels the country with voting slips for the players at all the pro clubs to fill out.
There will always be arguments about who should be in and who should be out, but blaming the time of year is not an option.