Date: Saturday 14th May 2022
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 16:45 BST
This afternoon marks our sixteenth FA Cup final appearance, as we face Liverpool at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool, who last won the FA Cup in 2006, saw off Shrewsbury Town, Cardiff City, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, and Man City to reach the final, we last won the competition in 2018 beating Manchester United in the final and in this year’s run to the final, beat Chesterfield, Plymouth Argyle, Luton Town and Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace.
We haven’t played an FA Cup final against Liverpool since our 2-1 win over them in 2012 and we last faced each other in the competition in the fifth round in 2020, when we put an end to their hopes of a treble. Liverpool may have lessened the likelihood of a quadruple now they’re trailing City by three points, but they’ve at least got second place and a Champions League final to keep the motivation levels up. They also rested a lot of their key players against Villa midweek and have had an extra day to prepare for the final (naturally). Injuries and a lack of quality in depth didn’t afford us the same luxury and having gone out of the Champions League to an annoyingly resilient Real Madrid, we’ve seen our motivation wane significantly, despite not yet guaranteeing ourselves a place in the competition next season.
Klopp has never gone beyond the fifth round in the FA Cup during his time at Liverpool, but I’m not sure he’s always taken the competition as seriously as he seems to have this season. Tuchel, meanwhile, has experienced an FA Cup final, albeit on the losing side against Leicester last year. Chelsea are far from strangers to an FA Cup final, having appeared in 15 before today, winning on 8 occasions and having lost the last two.
Liverpool come into today’s game on a 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions, whilst we’ve had just two wins from our last six games, although we did have a more convincing performance, to end a three-game winless run, in our midweek game against a Leeds side more intent on grappling with us than relegation.
There’s been nothing to separate us in our league meetings this season and the EFL Cup final went the same way in February, with us eventually losing 11-10 on penalties. We’ve already won the European Super Cup and Club World Cup, so whatever happens, we won’t end the season empty handed although given everything we’ve had thrown at us this season, an FA Cup would be nice.
Our biggest issue will be that half our defence seem to have been more preoccupied with thoughts of pastures new lately than what’s happening on the pitch in front of them and they won’t get away with playing with their heads up their backsides today.
Sadio Mane loves a goal against us.
Going into today’s game, Thomas Tuchel, says “It started with last season’s win at Anfield and very early in this season with a draw at Anfield, then a draw at Stamford Bridge and then a draw over 120 minutes and 20-something penalties. So very close matches, very intense matches and we needed always our very highest level to compete. But we found it in the matches and I don’t expect crazy new things from them, and actually also not from us. So the game is on, it’s a big final, a big competition and we want to be spot on. I think it can be anything. It can be a shot from the post and it’s deflected, from the post out or post in. Look at the big chances we had in the Carabao Cup and they had big chances. It can be a set-piece, it can be who gets the lead first, who gets a grip.
You have to be spot on in these kinds of matches, which were such close matches lately with decisions, sometimes red cards, sometimes a big mistake. We came back at Stamford Bridge, they came back at Anfield with a penalty and we had to dig in with 10 men. So a lot of different stories. That’s why I think we cannot focus on one single point, but it will be down to margins and it will be down to details within the match. We are facing one of the very best coaches and one of the very best teams in the world right now, this is obvious and proven over the last years and recent weeks, and we are up for the fight.
First of all it’s a big achievement to be in these finals and there has to be unfortunately a loser. It’s a special energy, it’s a special atmosphere, a special momentum that you have to catch and for sure you need a piece of luck to go away with the trophy. We are aware of that but we feel again well prepared and the atmosphere is right, the momentum is okay after the reaction in Leeds. We have the chance to win something domestically. We have been to a Carabao Cup final, we have won European trophies and the Club World Cup trophy. There are a lot of teams out there who have a worse season than our season. So I would not get carried away and say we have to win it, but we will try everything and it changes a lot if you play a final or if you win a final, I can tell you. It’s a huge difference and we need to do everything to be happy with ourselves and that we leave everything out there on the pitch. This is what we did in the Carabao Cup and nothing new, we need a bit of luck to be on our side, but we will push hard for it.”
Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, says “Chelsea are a really, really well-coached team. They have an idea for all different areas of the game, that’s 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. They can play with two strikers, one and two 10s. The only thing that’s clear is they defend with five in the last line. We don’t know exactly if they have two or three midfielders. It’s very interesting to prepare, to be honest. We play a final, an FA Cup final and it would be a real surprise if we met a weak team in that final.
A score to settle [after the Carabao Cup final], I’m not sure. It was the longest penalty shootout I’ve ever been part of! I know Thomas obviously and I know the players want to make a successful season out of it. It’s a good season – they qualified for the Champions League obviously. Last year they won the Champions League, this year they got knocked out by the other team who is in the final, which I think can happen. So, (they) played a really good season in a difficult year. Yes, they want to go for it, definitely. And they have quality and a lot of players. You don’t know how they will start, all these kind of things, different options, all these things. So, preparation will be interesting.”
For Chelsea, Ben Chilwell (knee), remains our long-term absentee along with Callum Hudson-Odoi. Mateo Kovacic (ankle) could be available despite Daniel James’ best attempts to break his leg and Kante remains a doubt, so presumably would only make the bench if back at all.
For Liverpool, Fabinho (hamstring) looks to be the only injury concern.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Mount, Havertz, Lukaku
LIVERPOOL (Possible line-up): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz
LAST MEETING (League Cup Final)
Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool (10-11 pens) 27th Feb 2022
CURRENT FORM (ALL)
- This is the second time the two sides have met in a domestic cup final this season
- Liverpool beat Chelsea 11-10 on penalties in the Carabao Cup final this season
- Liverpool are looking to win both of England’s domestic cup competitions in the same season for the first time since 2000/01.
- Today will be the 192nd meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in all competitions
- The last time Chelsea and Liverpool met in the FA Cup was in the fifth round in 2020.
- Liverpool and Chelsea have met once before in the FA Cup final (2012) – Chelsea ran out 2-1 winners.
- This will be Chelsea’s 16th appearance in the FA Cup final
- This will be Liverpool’s 15th appearance in the FA Cup final
Sportsmole: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool