Liverpool Football Club Chelsea Football ClubLIVERPOOL

v

CHELSEA

Wembley, London

May 5th, 2012; 1615 GMT

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Liverpool and Chelsea will face each other for the third time this season when they meet in the FA cup Final on Saturday, at the New Wembly Stadium. Liverpool haveAi??beaten Chelsea on the previous two encounters, once in the League Cup fifth round when they knocked Chelsea out with a 2-0 win and at the Stamford Bridge when theyAi??beat the hosts 2-1 in the Premier League.

The fixture has always gained traction from both set ofAi??supporters because of the recent history the two clubs share in the Champions League and because of certain transfers, particularly of Fernando Torres.

In 2005 Mourhino hushed the Kop, after Chelsea had beaten Liverpool out of the LeagueAi??Cup only to be humbled two months later when Liverpool knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League Semi Final.

Fernando Torres’ transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea added a pinch of salt to the rivalry, when the Kop darling chose a ‘big’ club, doing away with the demented Ai??fan support Ai??at Liverpool.

The fixture has almost always produced football, that can at best be described as ‘cagey’. Both the managers have been cautious in the past, choosing to deploy tactics that neutralise theAi??opposition,Ai??focusingAi??on maintaining the shape andAi??possessionAi??rather than resorting to expansive football. Expect the Saturday match to be no different.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Liverpool

Liverpool have already won the Carling Cup this season and have progressed into the FA cup final, building upon their impressive form in the cup competions; having beaten the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Mancehster City, Everton and Stoke in either of theAi??competitionsAi??on the road to the finals.

However, their league form has been anything but impressive – Liverpool beat Norwich on the previous weekend by three goals and were humbled by Fulham in midweek, losing the match 1-0 courtsey an own goal from Martin Skrtel. They have also conceded defeats to Newcastle United and West Brom in the month of April. Liverpool’s performance in Carling Cup final wasn’t up to the mark either, despite creating numerous chances, Liverpool could only beat Cardiff City on penalties.

Odds are heavily against Liverpool FC to win the FA Cup Final on Saturday.

Liverpool have no fresh injury concerns going into the match. Adam and Lucas will be missed for the game; both have been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Kenny Dalglish’s team selection has been less than predictable; one wonders if the gaffer himself knows his best eleven! Dalglish has shown tremendous faith in StewartAi??Downing and Jordan Henderson despite their unconvincing display over the long run. In allAi??probabilityAi??both will start against Chelsea. Downing, having beenAi??criticizedAi??by fans for his ‘impact-less’ performances over the season, was Liverpool’s best player on the pitch against Cardiff in the Carling Cup final.

As has been the story throughout the season, Liverpool will not beAi??aggressiveAi??on the attack, rather they will prefer to build up slowly and increase the momentum as they close inAi??and around the opposition’s box.

While attacking, the wingers will cut back into theAi??midfieldAi??allowing Gerrard and Shelvy to start a slow and steady build up through the middle.Ai??TheAi??wing-backsAi??in the mean time will push forward and link up with the strikers and midfielders. This would certainly suit Chelsea who are most likely to deploy a 4-2-3-1. TheAi??pushedAi??wing-backsAi??will leave the Chelsea frontline free to counter attack andAi??causeAi??problems to the Liverpool defense.

If that happens, Dalglish will have to choose if he plays Gerrard in the offensive role – behind the strikers or deploy him in front of the centre backs to contain theAi??counter attacks from the opposition. Liverpool do not have a lot of options in the middle; Dalglish will have to choose between Shelvy, Henderson and Spearing toAi??partner Gerrard, none of them actually capable of playing as the Shield in front of the defense except the captain.

Luis Suarez will lead Liverpool’s front line. TheAi??UruguayAi??international netted three goals against Norwich to claim his firstAi??hat-trick for Liverpool. That performance wouldAi??definitelyAi??put the manager under pressure – whether or not to play him alone at the top above Gerrard. Notably, Suarez is more effective when the opposition’s Ai??defense plays higher up the pitch. Chelsea in recent times have defended very deep. They have been cautious overall and theAi??approachAi??has got them through to the Champions league final. Which invariablyAi??suggests that Liverpool should start with Andy Carroll partnering Suarez at the top.

The presense of Carroll can help Liverpool in couple of ways. First and foremost, it will provide Gerrard multiple options of passing the ball forward, both long and short. Ai??Carroll also assuresAi??presenceAi??in the opposition’s box. If Chelsea remain conservative with their backline, Liverpool can put the ball into the box and leaveAi??the rest to Carroll and Suarez. More importantly, if Ai??Suarez plays alone at the top, it is assured that Di Matteo will man mark him and kill Liverpool’s game off its neck.

Dalglish should remember that Chelsea are unlikely to get beaten with slow and short passing. They did not let Barcelona do that, they will most likely not allowAi??Liverpool to do that either.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2):Ai??Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Downing, Gerrard, Shelvy, Henderson; Suarez, Carroll

football formations

Chelsea

Chelsea have beaten Barcelona at the Stamford bridge in the previous month -Ai??that’sAi??one thing; possible and reasonable. Chelsea knocked Barcelona out of the Champions LeagueAi??at Camp Nou – that is one of those things that are too good to be true – beyond measure and comparison. Beating Pep Gardiola’s Barcelona gives the winner a sense ofAi??belief. Belief is what wins a cup final at the Wembley.

The odds will favor Chelsea FC to win the FA Cup.

Roberto Di Matteo has been cautious in his approach on the pitch. And the approach has paid dividendsAi??beyond his wildest imaginations. On Saturday, Di Matteo will invite Dalgish’s men into Chelsea’s half and then hit them hard on the counter. At least that’s how they have been playing of late.

When Ramires scored at Camp Nou, all the ten Chelsea players were behind the ball. The goal happened when Chelsea broke into a counter attack with a long through pass from a wide angle layed off for Ramires, who made a run from deep inside his own half. If one compares that to the two goals Fernando Torres scored against QPR, the first one was pretty much the same – Torres beating the offside trap that was set high up the pitch, collected the through pass made from a wide angle in the mid field. At the second instance, it was Cole who provided a similar ball to the Chelsea forward – this time the wide player making a deep run into the oppositions box. Chelsea have been good at counter attacks lately – Di Matteo would not want to change that.

In the defense Garry Cahill is still out with a hamstring injury, while David Luiz is expected to make a return. The remaining players on the roster are available for selection, should Roberto Di Matteo decide to play them on Saturday.

Chelsea are expected to line-up in a 4-2-3-1 shape with Luiz partnering Terry in central defence with Ivanovic and Cole as fullbacks. Mikel and Lampard will form the double pivot.

After a poor performance by Malouda and Sturridge, Di Matteo will start with Kalou, Ramires and Mata playing in front of the two holding midfielders, with Mata deployed behind the striker, Kalou on the left and Ramires on the right. And, so phenomenal is Didier Drogba’s record in cup finals at Wembley that the Ivorian is expected to beat Fernando Torres to a starting berth come Saturday.

Chelsea’s double pivot is expected to ease the pressure of the defense, allowing the fullbacks to be more mobile, taking part in the attack. That could leave the game open because it’s the same way Liverpool like toAi??utilizeAi??their fullbacks – high up on the pitch. However, Chelsea have more potent attackingAi??prowessAi??in form of Mata, Kalou and Ramires. The trio will cause problems to Liverpool midfield which is comparably weak.

Dalglish might, therefore, choose to man mark Mata, which could result into a deadlock since Mata is imperative to Chelsea’s creative intelligence.

The match could very well come down to a moment of brilliance from one player or a blunder from another that could give the opposition an opportunity to seal the fixture.

Probable Starting Line-upAi??(4-2-3-1):Ai??Cech; Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Mata, Kalou; Drogba

Key Match Facts

  • Chelsea beat Liverpool 3-2 in the 2005 League Cup final but this will be the first time they have faced each other in the FA Cup final. Their last FA Cup meeting was in April 2006 when Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 in the semi-final.
  • Ai??Didier DrogbaAi??has scored seven goals in seven Wembley appearances and has scored three goals in FA Cup finals.
  • Like Drogba, Liverpool’sAi??Steven GerrardAi??has scored in a previous final, netting twice in 2006 when Liverpool beat West Ham UnitedAi??on penalties after the match ended in a 3-3 draw.
  • This will be their 31st meeting against each other since October 2004 – a total that includes 10 meetings in the Champions League.

*Facts courtesy : uk.eurosport.yahoo.com

TheHardTackle’s Player to Watch Out For

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Luis  Suarez

Luis Suarez Ai??hit a hattrick on the last weekend against Norwich. That included two top class finishes and a 50-yard screamer of a goal. If not anything, the performance reflects the sort of confidence that the player is carrying at the moment. Stirkers need to feel confident in order to convert those outside chances. When Luis Suarez is confident, he is dangerous. He is Liverpool’s player to watch out for.

John Terry (Chelsea)

John Terry

John Terry will miss the Champions League final due to his suspension, so this would be his lastAi??opportunityAi??to lead his team to silverware this season. For that matter John terry will have to keep Suarez shut. The Blues’ captain is Chelsea’s player to watch out for.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction

Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea have shown the defiance and discipline to overcome Barcelona; however, Liverpool have been accustomed in chasing games through out the season- claiming draws if not wins. Liverpool are likely to edge this out, if they do not allow Chelsea to sit back after scoring an early goal. Ai??Liverpool , however, will have to make sure that on Saturday, they hit the back of the net and not the crossbar!

TheHardTackle’s Blast From The Past

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2 Responses to “Liverpool v Chelsea Preview – FA Cup Final”

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  1. msi6000 says:

    Dont know when you wrote the article but you have got some major things wrong. Luiz has been ruled out along with cahill. So center back pairing for chelsea will be terry-ivanovic. Also there is no way Liverpool will start hendo,shelvs & gerrard. Shelvy will probably be on the bench, spearing or gearrad in the middle or hendo & gerrard. I think back 5 will be like what you’ve said, hendo & Spearing in the middle gerrard playing off/behind luis, bellamy on the left & downing on the right.

  2. Aditya Sharma says:

    Not too sure if Daglish trusts Shelvey enough to give him a start in a season-defining match like this. Spearing seems more likely.
    I’m a little worried about the fact that even if Chelsea are trailing in the second half, they can bring Torres on as a sub