Chelsea Vs Liverpool Match Preview (1 Viewer)

Beejay59

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Get ready for a déjà vu showdown at Wembley this Sunday afternoon as Chelsea and Liverpool battle it out for the first major trophy of the 2023-24 season, just like they did in the EFL Cup final back in 2021-22.

Liverpool, led by Jurgen Klopp, snatched victory from Chelsea's grasp in a heart-wrenching penalty shootout two years ago, and they're tipped by many to do it again, despite missing several key players this time around.

Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea's current coach, endured five trophyless years at Tottenham Hotspur before taking the reins at Chelsea, and now he's on the brink of clinching a significant trophy in English football.

Chelsea had to fight through more rounds than Liverpool to get here, thanks to their absence from European competitions. They faced off against AFC Wimbledon, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, and Middlesbrough, with the latter giving them a scare in the semi-finals before Chelsea turned the tide with a resounding 6-1 win.

However, Chelsea's recent history in the EFL Cup hasn't been kind, with their last two final appearances ending in heartbreaking penalty shootout losses. They risk making an unwanted record if they lose again – becoming the first team to lose six domestic cup finals in a row.

On the other hand, Liverpool comes into the final on a three-game unbeaten streak, including wins against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace. They also managed a hard-fought draw against Manchester City. While they've conceded in every EFL Cup game this season, their ability to score multiple goals and mount comebacks makes them a formidable opponent, eyeing a historic quadruple.

For Jurgen Klopp, it's his last shot at an EFL Cup victory before he bids adieu to the tournament. Liverpool aims to extend their record-breaking nine titles to double digits and secure their 14th final appearance, making it a record in itself.

Though Liverpool has dominated recent encounters against Chelsea, with an eight-game unbeaten streak, revenge is on Chelsea's mind, especially after their losses in the previous Wembley meetings. So, expect a fierce battle between the Blues and the Reds, with both sides hungry for glory.

INJURIES & SUSPENSION​

Chelsea's outstanding defensive performance at the Etihad Stadium was quite remarkable considering they had a few concerns in their backline. Players like Benoit Badiashile, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, and Marc Cucurella were all sidelined due to various injuries, with only Cucurella having a slight chance of making a comeback for the upcoming weekend clash.

Veteran defender Thiago Silva, who's nearing 40 and has experienced disappointment in all three of his domestic cup finals with Chelsea, was also absent against Manchester City due to a groin issue. His availability for the final remains uncertain, but manager Pochettino might stick with the defensive lineup that worked well.

In goalkeeping duties, Djordje Petrovic might retain his spot ahead of Robert Sanchez, who's returned from injury and personal matters. However, Chelsea will miss the services of Carney Chukwuemeka, Lesley Ugochukwu, and Romeo Lavia due to their respective injuries.

Moving on to Liverpool, they're facing a crisis with several key players sidelined. Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Doak, Stefan Bajcetic, Joel Matip, Diogo Jota, Thiago Alcantara, and Curtis Jones will all be absent on Sunday. Additionally, doubts linger over the fitness of some other players.

Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, both nursing injuries since the Brentford game, didn't make it to Wednesday's match against Luton, and their availability for the final depends on last-minute fitness tests. Similarly, Dominik Szoboszlai is in a similar situation due to a thigh injury.

Despite these concerns, Cody Gakpo has been a standout performer for Liverpool in the EFL Cup, netting four goals in the competition. Harvey Elliott, who impressed against Luton in Salah's absence, is also set for his 101st appearance for Liverpool at Wembley.

POSSIBLE LINE-UPS​

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Colwill, Chilwell; Caicedo, Fernandez; Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling; Jackson

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Gravenberch, Endo, Mac Allister; Elliott, Gakpo, Diaz

EXPERT PREDICTION​

Chelsea 2-4 Liverpool
Pochettino believes that something clicked for Chelsea after their rough defeat to Liverpool at Anfield a few weeks back. His determination to clinch a major trophy in English football is stronger than ever.

Liverpool has been consistently conceding in every EFL Cup match this season, and it's likely to continue against the resurgent Blues. However, Liverpool's biggest worry isn't defense but rather the uncertainty around Salah, Nunez, and Szoboszlai's availability. If they miss out, Liverpool's chances of success will take a hit.

Yet, Klopp's trust in young talents and squad players has seen lesser-known names step up when needed. With Chelsea still struggling to overcome their cup final jinx, the resilient Reds are slightly favored to lift the trophy once again.
 

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