Analysis

'The FA Cup has always meant so much to me'

Ross Barkley has revealed his love of the FA Cup started as a youngster because he was able to watch games on terrestrial television.

Yesterday’s matchwinner has been in fine form in the competition this season, scoring goals in our wins over Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and, yesterday, Leicester. He also set up Fikayo Tomori’s header in the fourth round at Hull.

A winner with Chelsea in 2018, Barkley is determined to repeat that feat this year, and he has explained how his interest in the world’s oldest cup competition started as a young boy on Merseyside.

‘There is a lot of history to it,’ said Barkley. ‘As a kid growing up, I was always watching the games. We didn’t have Sky at home, so every time the FA Cup was on I was into it.

‘Playing in it, it’s a great competition, and this season the luck has been on my side. It would mean everything to win it again.

‘When the gaffer came he brought a winning mentality, he’s won everything there is to win as a player, and I’m sure he wants to get his first trophy as a manager right away.’

Barkley made a crucial impact off the bench with his decisive goal at the King Power, and it was also as a sub he helped us turn a deficit around in our first game after the restart, at Aston Villa. That cameo earned him a starting berth against Man City.

‘I’m focused, I’m feeling fit, I stayed on it when we were off, and I came back feeling good, training hard,’ Barkley said of his own form.

‘Everyone is fit and on their toes, we have a lot of competition for places, and you have got to be ready when you get the chance.

‘I’ve adjusted to the empty stadiums,’ he added.

‘Seven years ago I was playing in reserve games with a similar empty stadium. It’s just what we’ve got to do. We’ve adapted really well to it, with three wins out of three, but of course it would be much better with the fans in.'

Read more: Lampard inspired Barkley winner

MORE FROM CHELSEA