Chelsea and Liverpool lock horns in FA Cup final
The FA Cup reaches its conclusion this weekend with Premier League heavyweights Chelsea and Liverpool meeting each other at Wembley in a 5.15pm kick-off.
Chelsea will come into the match on the back of a 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle United, during the league’s midweek round of fixtures.
However, before Wednesday night’s loss, Roberto Di Matteo’s men had gone 11 games in all competitions unbeaten, a run that saw them knock out European giants Barcelona, en route to the Champions League final.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have encountered various Premier League and Championship opposition on their way to the final, with their 5-1 semi-final victory over fellow London club Tottenham Hotspur, a particular highlight.
Striker Didier Drogba arguably played his best game of the season against Spurs and that may see him start in attack. However, the resurgence in Fernando Torres’ recent form means Di Matteo has a tough decision to make.
Whilst going forward, the Blues look dangerous; they are no doubt vulnerable at the back, with centre-halves David Luiz and Gary Cahill still sidelined. It means John Terry will probably see Branislav Ivanovic paired with him in the middle, with Jose Bosingwa deputising at right-back.
Liverpool, much like their counterparts, also go into Saturday’s game having lost at home in midweek. A Martin Skrtel own goal gave Fulham all three points at Anfield and Kenny Dalglish will want his side to bounce back in the best possible fashion at Wembley.
A disappointing league campaign may be overlooked by supporters and the owners should the Reds win their second cup competition of the year, after also triumphing over Cardiff City back in February in the Carling Cup final.
Despite playing lower league opposition at various stages, Liverpool’s run to the final has arguably been tougher than their opponents’, with the Anfield club knocking out Manchester United, Stoke City and city rivals, Everton, on the way.
And to help finish their cup run off, Dalglish can recall Daniel Agger, Luis Suarez and skipper, Steven Gerrard, after they sat out Tuesday night’s defeat.
For Chelsea, this is the first of two cup finals they’ll play this month, two matches that may seal the deal on Roberto Di Matteo’s future at Chelsea.
Their form, despite the blip against Newcastle on Wednesday, favours them, with Drogba, Torres and Juan Mata all capable of providing a bit of Cup Final magic.
In Liverpool’s case, this is a must-win game, in order to brighten the skies in the North West of England and possibly give Kenny Dalglish a reason why he should remain in charge.
A fresh Gerrard and Suarez may give the Reds some energy going forward, whilst the partnership in defence between Martin Skrtel and Agger has been a real positive for them.
It’s a tight call, but Chelsea-Liverpool games rarely pass without entertainment and controversy and I’d expect more of the same here.