Liverpool turn their attention from the revived Premier League title race as they take on Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday. Here’s a preview of what promises to be an enthralling encounter.

Both sides were in a three way battle alongside Manchester City for the Premier League title in the embryonic stages of the season. Chelsea led the way for most of that period before a rocky patch saw them fall away.

Whereas Jürgen Klopp’s side have showed their staying power to reel City back in, Chelsea have drifted away from the conversation. They now lie a distant third, 10 points behind the Reds albeit with a game in hand. That will all count for nothing when the two teams line up on Sunday though.

Chelsea come into the final in excellent form themselves having won each of their last six matches in all competitions and conceding just twice in that sequence. They’re also on a high having won the Club World Cup for the very first time in their history.

After clinching the UEFA Super Cup in August, they made it two trophies for the season by beating Palmeiras 2-1 after extra time to lift the elusive Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago. Upon their return to the UK, the Blues have seen off Crystal Palace (1-0) and Lille (2-0) showing no signs of a hangover.

Liverpool are in rude health themselves, winning each of their last nine games in all competitions and conceding just three goals in the process. This run has of course seen them move to within three points of City as well as secure progress in all three Cup competitions.

The Reds have plundered over hundred goals this season and come into this final hellbent on adding to their trophy collection. Jürgen Klopp has led the club to four pieces of silverware in his six years at the helm.

Liverpool celebrate winning the Super Cup

This side deserves more trophies given how brilliant they’ve been over the past couple of years. Standing between them and a fifth trophy under Klopp is a well drilled Chelsea side. Both encounters against Thomas Tuchel’s outfit have ended in stalemates this season.

A frustrating 1-1 draw at Anfield was particularly galling as Chelsea were reduced to ten men on the stroke of halftime. A typical backs to the wall defensive performance saw the Londoners leave with a point.

The second stalemate came at the beginning of last month after an entertaining game at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead and threatened to batter the reigning European champions only to concede two goals in a five minute spell before halftime.

Jürgen Klopp and his troops will feel they should have won both games and will have a chance to right those wrongs on Sunday. Thomas Tuchel hasn’t tasted defeat to Liverpool as Chelsea boss, with his sole victory coming in a 1-0 success at Anfield last season.

Wembley’s big pitch will suit both sides. Liverpool will try to stretch play with their wide forwards whilst Chelsea will aim to do so with their wingbacks in what should be a real tactical battle. Finals between top sides are usually cagey and we could see another tight affair here.

Chelsea have more domestic Cup final experience as they’ve been to five such finals over the past five years. They have just one win to show for it however, with a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the 2018 FA Cup final.

They’ve lost four of their last five finals at Wembley. Arsenal got the better of them in the 2017 FA Cup final,p and then again in the 2020 edition. They also lost the 2019 League Cup final to Manchester City on penalties before suffering another defeat in last season’s FA Cup final at the hands of Leicester City.

It’s a shocking record which is papered over somewhat by the Champions League win last season and the extra two trophies that comes along with it. Liverpool meanwhile have also lost their last two domestic finals, going down 2-1 to Chelsea in the 2012 FA Cup final and then on penalties against Manchester City in the 2016 League Cup final.

Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson pose with the League Cup

The Reds won their last domestic Cup competition in 2012 with King Kenny leading the side to a penalty shootout victory over Cardiff City to clinch an eighth League Cup title. A decade on and they’re now in with a chance of moving clear of Manchester City as the most successful side in the competition’s history.

Chelsea on the other hand have won the competition on five occasions. The last time these two sides met in a final was the 2019 UEFA Super Cup, with the Reds coming out on top after a penalty shootout victory following a 2-2 draw after extra time.

Silverware is a marker of success, and with the competition between Liverpool, Chelsea and City being so fierce, there are only so many to go around. Chelsea can point to their two trophies this season as a sign of success.

Liverpool haven’t won silverware since lifting their first Premier League title two years ago. A side this talented can’t afford such long stretches without winning. No other outcome is palatable on Sunday, only a win will do.

Team News

For Liverpool, Roberto Firmino has been ruled out with an adductor injury. Diogo Jota, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, is likely to make the bench at least. Otherwise, it’s a full strength squad.

For Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel confirmed all of his squad trained today bar Ben Chilwell who is a long term absentee. Reece James and Mason Mount have returned from their layoffs whilst Ziyech and Kovacic have shaken off the knocks they picked up against Lille.

Key Players

Mohamed Salah

The 29 year old has been the best player in the world this season and is already reeling from final heartbreak with his country. Expect him to do everything in his power to avoid another defeat. He’s been involved in 5 goals in his 5 appearances (4 goals, 1 assist) since the AFCON final and has a good record against his former club.

Expect Salah to be heavily involved

Ngolo Kanté

The Frenchman is the ultimate big game player. He’s been named MOTM in Chelsea’s last five UCL knockout games. He’s been a thorn in Liverpool’s side over the years too, as he always seems to relish coming up against the Reds. He’s provided 3 assists in his last 6 starts as well so is in good form.

Sadio Mané

The Senegalese international will be looking to add the League Cup to the AFCON title he lifted in Cameroon three weeks ago. In doing so, he’ll deny country man Edouard Mendy from adding another trophy to his impressive haul. In Jota and Firmino’s absence, Mané will likely play through the middle again.

How he fares in that role and how clinical he is with his chances could decide the final. He’s netted 3 goals in his 4 appearances post-AFCON. Chelsea are his second favourite opponents, with his 8 strikes against them only bettered by the 13 he’s managed against Palace.



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