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There is unlikely to be much to choose between these two sides, but the Reds are a slightly superior team and that could make all the difference.
Back Liverpool to win
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In the final of the League Cup at the end of February, Chelsea and Liverpool played for 120 minutes without either team finding the back of the net. Yet the 0-0 scoreline was not an accurate reflection of the match.
There were no fewer than four goals ruled out by the linesmen or the video assistant referee. Both sides had numerous other chances to score, but a combination of wayward finishing and good goalkeeping ensured there was no breakthrough even after extra time.
In the end, Kepa Arrizabalaga was the fall guy. After 21 successful spot-kicks in a row, the Chelsea goalkeeper blazed his penalty high over the bar to give the trophy to Liverpool. The Blues understandably felt hard done by. They had gone toe to toe with the Reds and matched them all the way. Thomas Tuchel and his players will be looking to avenge that defeat when they return to Wembley this weekend.
Chelsea have endured a turbulent few months, but there are shoots of optimism around the club right now. Roman Abramovich’s sudden and dramatic departure must have had an effect on on-field performances, while rumors went around that Chelsea could be kicked out of the Premier League or even go bankrupt.
However, Todd Boehly’s consortium is now on the verge of completing its takeover, with a deal expected to be confirmed by the end of the month.
Things have picked up on the pitch too. Chelsea’s faltering form of late led to concerns that they could be dragged back into the race for the top four, but Wednesday’s comfortable 3-0 triumph over Leeds United means the Blues will almost certainly be playing Champions League soccer next term. That will allow them to focus their full attention on the FA Cup final.
Whereas this competition is the only meaningful thing Chelsea have to play for, Liverpool are still hunting silverware on three fronts. However, their hopes of landing the Premier League title are fading.
Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham – far from a bad result in isolation – has handed the initiative to Manchester City. If the champions beat West Ham on Sunday, they will be six points clear at the summit of the standings with two games left to play for Liverpool.
Winning the title will now be extremely difficult. Liverpool’s fate is not in their own hands. Jurgen Klopp’s side still have plenty to play for, though. The League Cup trophy is already safely in the cabinet, and the FA Cup and Champions League could yet follow.
Balancing four competitions is far from easy, but Liverpool have made it look that way this term. The Reds have won 25 of their 30 games in all competitions since a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at the beginning of January. Of the five matches they did not win, three did not matter since Liverpool advanced on aggregate anyway.
Their 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Tuesday was important. First, it kept the heat on Manchester City in the title race. Second, it showed Liverpool have the ability to bounce back from relative adversity after that slight blip against Tottenham. Klopp’s players will arrive at Wembley this weekend full of confidence and belief.
All three meetings between these teams this season have ended with the scores level. As well as that scoreless stalemate at Wembley for the League Cup final, Chelsea and Liverpool drew 1-1 at Anfield and 2-2 at Stamford Bridge.
Taking the three games as a whole, Chelsea have probably been the better team in head-to-head duels, albeit by a small margin. But the Premier League table does not lie: Liverpool have amassed 16 more points than Chelsea, whom they have scored more goals than and conceded fewer.
Liverpool are also in better form. It is true that Chelsea delivered an accomplished display against Leeds last time out, but their opponents did not make it too difficult for them. Tuchel’s charges have actually failed to win five of their last eight games in the Premier League. In recent weeks they have been beaten by Brentford and Everton, and frustrated by Wolves and a poor Manchester United team.
Some will be tempted by the attractive odds available on a draw, but note that only two of the last 14 FA Cup finals have gone to extra time. This is likely to be a tight game between a pair of excellent teams, but we would recommend backing Liverpool to triumph in 90 minutes.
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|Chelsea vs Liverpool Information|
|Teams||Chelsea vs Liverpool|
|Location||Wembley Stadium, London, England|
|Time||Saturday, 14 May 2022, 11.45 AM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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