Chelsea will be looking to go one better than last season this afternoon as they go head-to-head with Liverpool in the FA Cup final.
The Blues lost out to Leicester City in last season’s fixture at Wembley, with Thomas Tuchel looking to win his first FA Cup trophy since being appointed Chelsea boss.
For Chelsea, there’s added incentive because of the Carabao Cup final earlier in the season that saw Liverpool come out champions after a dramatic penalty shootout win.
The last three matches between Liverpool and Chelsea have ended in draws and Tuchel is expecting another tight match when the two sides clash on Saturday.
“Anything else would surprise me,” the Chelsea head coach said on Friday afternoon.
“It started with last season’s win at Anfield. Then very early in this season, with a draw at Anfield.”
“Then a draw at Stamford Bridge and a draw over 120 minutes and twenty-something penalties at Wembley. So very close, very intense matches.”
“We always need our very highest level to compete, but we found it in the matches. I don’t expect crazy new things from them and also from us. The game is on tomorrow. A big final, big competition. We want to be spot on.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted he doesn’t know what sort of team Tuchel is going to field at Wembley this afternoon.
“Chelsea are a really, really well-coached team,” Klopp said.
“They have an idea for all different areas of the game, that is how it is. They play a similar system to other teams, but a different level. They’re very organised defensively and offensively they have so much talent.”
“We have no idea how Thomas will set up for example, they have so many different options in offensive areas. Werner, Ziyech and Havertz didn’t start the last game. All three could start, for example, and it gives a completely different dynamic to Mount, Lukaku and Pulisic.”
Klopp might not know what team Chelsea are going to put out at Wembley, but football.
The Brazil international limped off in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday evening with a muscular injury and Klopp confirmed he will be out for today’s match.
This means Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is likely to come into the midfield and play in the ‘number six‘ role.
Henderson did just that last month in the Reds‘ 1-0 win at Newcastle United – and actually flourished in the role.
Despite Henderson’s ability to cover Fabinho, with the Brazilian sidelined, it’s a huge blow for Klopp.
Liverpool’s number three is one of the best in the world in his position and Chelsea will be hoping they can take advantage of his absence when the two sides go head-to-head. The goalkeeper selection sorts itself, with Alisson Becker expected to start against Chelsea despite Caoimhin Kelleher’s heroics in the Carabao Cup final in February.
Matip playing on Tuesday suggests it might be the latter to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of Liverpool’s back four.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson look set to start at right and left-back, respectively.
Alongside Henderson is likely to be Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita.
Both Thiago and Keita have flourished in recent months as Liverpool have been hunting down the quadruple.
They’re both very strong when it comes to the Reds‘ pressing system and will be tasked with dispossessing Chelsea inside their own half.
As for the front three, the Reds have an array of options to choose from.
The Brazil international seems unlikely to start at Wembley due to a lack of match fitness.
The big selection dilemma for Klopp seems to be out of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.
The former is in much better form right now, which is why Klopp may be tempted to start the speedy Colombian forward.