Chelsea VS Liverpool – LIVE Reddit Soccer 27/02/2022
Chelsea, who have won the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup this season, will have their eyes on their third piece of silverware. The Blues have made it this far the hard way as they defeated Aston Villa and Southampton on penalties in the third and fourth round of the competition before beating Brentford in the quarter-finals. A 3-0 aggregate win over Tottenham in the two-legged semi-finals set up their final appearance. Liverpool, meanwhile, eased past Norwich City and Preston North End in the early stages of their Carabao Cup campaign but had to rely on penalties to beat Leicester City in the quarter-finals. The Reds then defeated Arsenal 2-0 in the semi-finals over two legs to book a date with Chelsea at Wembley. With Jurgen Klopp’s men still alive and kicking in all four major competitions, a quadruple could very well be on the cards.
Chelsea and Liverpool have faced each other twice already in the Premier League, with both the games ending in tightly-contested draws. The Blues have won six games in a row in all competitions while Liverpool are on a nine-match winning run heading into the showpiece event at Wembley. Ahead of this blockbuster finale on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams. Liverpool will be without star striker Roberto Firmino for the game due to an injury. In addition, Diogo Jota is also a doubt, although assistant manager Pepijn Ljinders sounded hopeful of having the Portuguese forward back in time for the final. The Reds will field their strongest possible XI, which would mean some of the cup regulars will have to suffice with a place on the bench.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Ben Chilwell is the only guaranteed absentee for the Wembley showpiece. It means that Reece James could be in contention to feature for the first time in 2022, while the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech are fit to feature after picking up knocks in their midweek win against LOSC Lille. Kepa Arrizabalaga has started all of Chelsea’s five Carabao Cup matches this term and has put in some clutch performances. So, even though he was replaced by Edouard Mendy for the FIFA Club World Cup final, the Spaniard should get the nod between the sticks against Liverpool on Sunday evening.
Thiago Silva, who has been in sublime form of late, should line up at the centre of the three-man defensive unit. He will be flanked by Antonio Rudiger on one side, while Andreas Christensen should get the nod over Trevoh Chalobah as the third centre-back. Malang Sarr, who has been a part of the starting XI in each of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup matches this term, will have to miss out. Despite Reece James’ potential availability, Tuchel could avoid risking him from the start and go in with captain Cesar Azpilicueta as the right wing-back. Marcos Alonso should get the nod on the left side, where he will be in for a feisty battle with the equally attack-minded Trent Alexander-Arnold. N’Golo Kante and Kovacic should hold the fort down in the centre of the park for the Blues.
Ziyech has been one of Chelsea’s most in-form players heading into this game and is a certainty to feature in the right-side channel. Mason Mount, who returned from injury in midweek, could get the nod as the second attacking midfielder, although Christian Pulisic is ready to feature if the Englishman is not deemed fit to start. Kai Havertz should continue ahead of the under-fire Romelu Lukaku as the No. 9.
Potentially only 90 minutes away from winning a record-breaking ninth EFL Cup crown, Liverpool journey south to renew hostilities with Chelsea in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
The Reds overcame Arsenal over two legs in the semi-final to book their Wembley tickets, while Thomas Tuchel’s side ended Tottenham Hotspur’s hopes of glory in the final four. A sixth EFL Cup crown does not have quite as nice a ring to it as European champions or world champions, but for Chelsea, a priceless piece of mid-season silverware could very well act as the catalyst for a haul of future success in the spring months.
With the Premier League title slipping further and further away from Thomas Tuchel’s men, a domestic and continental treble is still on the cards, and a six-game winning run in all tournaments sets the Blues up nicely for a February Wembley showdown.
Chelsea’s defensive solidity came to the fore as they sunk former manager Antonio Conte and his Tottenham side 3-0 over two legs in the semi-finals, and they were forced to rely on similar staunch rearguard action to overcome Lille 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 battle in midweek. Furthermore, Chelsea have only shipped two goals in their six-game winning run amid uncertainty surrounding the futures of several of their defenders, all of whom have contributed to the Blues keeping three successive EFL Cup clean sheets on their route to Wembley.
The European champions’ ninth EFL Cup final is made all the more impressive given that they have only faced Premier League opposition in the tournament this season, but their last appearance in the showpiece event ended in defeat to Manchester City in 2019, and Liverpool are nothing if not ruthless. A six-game winning streak is nothing to be sniffed at by any means, but Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Liverpool had a different number six in mind when Leeds United paid a visit to the Anfield fortress, as Marcelo Bielsa’s side capitulated on the Merseyside turf.
Mohamed Salah’s brace, Sadio Mane’s double, Joel Matip’s mazy run and finish and Virgil van Dijk’s bullet header moved Liverpool to within touching distance of Premier League leaders Manchester City, and hopes of an unprecedented quadruple are still very much alive. Morale was not at its maximum when the Reds were held to a goalless draw by Arsenal’s 10 men in the first leg of their semi-final, but Diogo Jota inspired his side to victory at the Emirates, and Liverpool will now contest their record-extending 13th EFL Cup final.
A spate of Manchester City dominance means that the two giants both sit at the top of the charts on eight EFL Cup wins apiece, but it has been a decade since Liverpool last lifted the domestic crown – defeating Cardiff City on penalties in the 2011-12 final. Early exits have bedevilled Klopp’s crop since then – although the German manager is not exactly renowned for his undying love for the competition – but having won each of their last nine in all tournaments, Liverpool will not turn their nose up to a record-breaking trophy.
Both Premier League fixtures between Chelsea and Liverpool this term ended with the spoils shared, and the two sides have met once before in the EFL Cup final, where Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman contributed to a 3-2 Chelsea win after extra time in the 2004-05 edition. Mason Mount was fit enough for a place on the bench against Lille in a major fitness boost to Chelsea, especially seeing as Hakim Ziyech was forced off with an Achilles issue and is considered slightly doubtful.
Mateo Kovacic was also forced off with a muscular problem in the Champions League win, although Tuchel is hopeful that both he and Ziyech can be involved in some capacity on Sunday, and the same can be said for Callum Hudson-Odoi. Ben Chilwell could therefore be the Blues’ only absentee for the final, with Tuchel exclaiming that Reece James could be fit enough for a place in the squad, but it would be a surprise to see him start.
Tuchel has big calls to make in all areas of the pitch, but Kepa Arrizabalaga will be desperate to get the nod in goal, while Kai Havertz could once again lead the line ahead of Romelu Lukaku. As for Liverpool, Diogo Jota is battling to be fit for the final after sustaining an ankle injury against Inter Milan in the Champions League, but Roberto Firmino will be absent.
Klopp has no other issues to contend with barring his two centre-forwards, and with Jota surely only being considered for a bench role, Mane and Salah ought to join Luis Diaz in the final third again. The Reds boss has also confirmed that Caoimhin Kelleher will act as the last line of defence at Wembley, where Jordan Henderson should return to an otherwise settled Liverpool XI.