Liverpool and Chelsea will square off against each other at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening in the finals of the 2021/22 FA Cup.
The second major trophy of the 2021/22 English domestic season will be on the line on Saturday as Liverpool face Chelsea in the finals of the FA Cup. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, having won the Carabao Cup, will be looking to keep their hopes of a quadruple burning bright. Thomas Tuchel’s Blues will aim to add to their trophy cabinet, having already lifted the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup this term.
Liverpool began their FA Cup journey with a 4-1 win over Shrewsbury Town in the third round before seeing off Cardiff City (3-1) and Norwich City (2-1) in the subsequent stages. The Reds overcame Nottingham Forest in the quarter-finals before eliminating arch-rivals Manchester City in the semi-finals by securing a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Liverpool are currently on a 15-game unbeaten run across all competitions and head into Saturday’s finals on the back of a 2-1 comeback win over Aston Villa in the Premier League. With the League Cup already in the bag, the Merseyside giants will be intent on adding the FA Cup to their kitty, before chasing the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea started their FA Cup campaign with an easy 5-1 thrashing of Chesterfield Town but were then made to work hard by Plymouth Argyle and Luton Town in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. The Blues prevailed over giant-killers Middlesbrough in the quarter-finals and then saw off London rivals Crystal Palace in the semi-finals.
Recent form is not on Chelsea’s side, though, with just two wins in their last six games in all competitions, with the west Londoners beating Leeds United 3-0 in the Premier League in their most recent assignment. Having fallen prey to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final earlier this year, Chelsea will be gunning for revenge in the FA Cup showpiece event at Wembley.
Team News & Tactics
Chelsea have been handed a boost as both Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante could be in contention to feature against Liverpool. It would mean that the Blues would be without Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi for the blockbuster clash. Thomas Tuchel will recall some of the players that he rested for the game against Leeds United, with Chelsea expected to continue in their 3-4-2-1 formation on Saturday.
Edouard Mendy should continue between the sticks ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga. Thiago Silva, who was rested against Leeds, should return to the starting XI, slotting in at the centre of the three-man backline.
The Brazilian ought to be flanked by Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger. Trevoh Chalobah made a good case for his inclusion with an astute display earlier this week but might have to settle for a place on the bench.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 12, 2022
Tuchel could look to deploy Reece James as the right-sided centre-back to counter Sadio Mane’s pace. But the English international has been one of Chelsea’s main chance-creators from the wing-back slot and should continue in his natural position. On the left side, there is no looking past Marcos Alonso.
Tuchel has expressed some optimism surrounding the availability of Kante and Kovacic. But he might opt to stick with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho in the centre of the park, after the pair impressed in the victory against Leeds United.
Mason Mount will take up the creative mantle and will have support from Christian Pulisic, who has been in good touch in the past couple of matches. Finally, Romelu Lukaku should get the nod in the No. 9 role after having scored three times in the last two matches for Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku
Liverpool might have to make do without midfielder Fabinho, who was injured in the last game against Aston Villa. Otherwise, Jurgen Klopp has a fully-fit squad at his disposal ahead of their trip to Wembley. Jurgen Klopp also opted to bench some of his key stars in the midweek clash and will recall them at Wembley.
Jürgen Klopp expects Fabinho to be fit for the #UCL final. ⤵
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2022
There will be no looking past Alisson Becker in goal for the Merseysiders. Andrew Robertson, who was given a breather earlier in the week, should return at left-back at the expense of Kostas Tsimikas. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk ought to retain their places in the Liverpool backline.
Fabinho’s potential absence comes as a major blow for Liverpool. In his place, captain Jordan Henderson should slot in at the base of the midfield and look to keep a close eye on Mason Mount. Naby Keita will provide the energy and the legs in the midfield engine room for the Reds. Thiago Alcantara should occupy the third slot in the centre of the park, after not starting against Aston Villa.
Moving up, Mohamed Salah should be recalled to the starting XI, with Diogo Jota making way for the Egyptian superstar. Luis Diaz and the in-form Sadio Mane will complete the Liverpool attack that will cause plenty of problems to the Chelsea defence with their pace, movement, link-up play and dribbling abilities.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz
- Chelsea and Liverpool clashed in the Carabao Cup final earlier this season. For only the second time, the same two sides will contest in the finals of both the League Cup and the FA Cup in the same campaign.
- Liverpool will be aiming to win both of England’s domestic cup competitions in the same season for the first time since 2000/01.
- This will be the fourth meeting of the season between Liverpool and Chelsea. All three of the previous meetings have ended in draws, although the Reds came out on top on penalties in the Carabao Cup.
- Chelsea are the first team to qualify for three consecutive FA Cup finals since Arsenal between 2000/01 and 2002/03. However, they have lost each of the last two finals against Arsenal and Leicester City.
- Liverpool have a 50-50 win-loss record in the FA Cup finals, having lifted the trophy on seven of the 14 occasions they have made it to the last stage of the competition.
Player to Watch
Sadio Mane this season:
✔️ AFCON final 🏆
✔️ Champions League final ⏳
✔️ Carabao Cup final 🏆
✔️ FA Cup final ⏳ pic.twitter.com/GdvTpRH5GX
— Da4ry (@LFC_Da4ry) May 9, 2022
The in-form player for Liverpool, Sadio Mane is enjoying a fine campaign and has been one of the chief protagonists for Jurgen Klopp’s side, helping them remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple. He has plundered 22 goals in 48 games across all competitions, including the winner against Aston Villa in midweek.
Mane has scored six goals against Chelsea since joining Liverpool in 2016. No other player has netted more against the Blues during this period. Following his brace against Manchester City in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, he is looking to become the first Liverpool player to score in consecutive Wembley appearances (when used as a neutral venue) since Philippe Coutinho (April 2015 and Feb 2016).
Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
Chelsea and Liverpool have met thrice already this season, with both their Premier League meetings ending in draws, while the Reds just about edged out the Blues in the Carabao Cup on penalties. So, we can expect another closely-fought encounter between two top teams coached by two world-class managers.
However, recent form tips the scales in favour of Liverpool, considering that Chelsea have not been playing at their best of late. The Blues have been beaten by Everton and Arsenal in recent weeks, while they failed to defeat a struggling Manchester United side as well.
On the other hand, Liverpool have been finding ways to win even from difficult situations. Even though Mohamed Salah has not been performing at his best, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz have stepped up admirably for the Reds and should once again help Jurgen Klopp’s men get over the line on Saturday at Wembley.