Premier League powers Chelsea and Liverpool will meet again at Wembley Stadium for a domestic cup final nearly three months removed from their League Cup final showdown on the same pitch.
The two teams played to an entertaining scoreless draw on Feb. 27, only for Liverpool to come away with the trophy after a wild penalty shootout which needed both goalkeeper to take a kick. Not a single penalty had been missed after 10 rounds of the shootout, and after Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher scored his team’s 11th-round effort, he stopping that of his Chelsea counterpart Kepa Arrizabalaga.
After that League Cup title, the Reds’ pursuit of a historic quadruple is still on. Although the Premier League crown looks unlikely with two matches remaining in that competition, Liverpool could very realistically come away with an unprecedented treble of knockout silverware with the Champions League final coming up on May 28.
The Blues will definitely prove a challenge as manager Thomas Tuchel has shown he’s especially adept at navigating his side through knockout tournaments. Chelsea will be fueled by revenge for February’s trophy loss, and with several of their players reportedly departing Stamford Bridge this summer, it’s their last chance to win some silverware with the club.
MORE: Best bets for FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool
Saturday’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool from Wembley Stadium will be streamed exclusively on ESPN’s streaming service ESPN+ in the United States.
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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has regularly rotated his attacking players through the last few months, and with Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku taking part against Leeds midweek, it could indicate that German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are set for a recall into the front line.
The Blues have two main injury concerns in midfield. Mateo Kovacic was forced to exit the midweek Premier League match against Leeds United, the victim of a red-card tackle that caused an ankle injury. Tuchel says Kovacic wants to try to play through the pain, but the manager could still opt for veteran Jorginho, who would slide into the open spot.
N’Golo Kante is also hopeful of playing after missing three matches with an undisclosed knock. Ruben Loftus-Cheek would be the backup option. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell are long-term absentees and will not take part.
Chelsea projected starting lineup (3-4-3, right to left): Mendy (GK) — Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger — James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso — Mount, Havertz, Werner.
Despite playing in every single match available to be played in 2021-22, Liverpool is somehow nearly fully healthy with two weeks remaining in the campaign. Roberto Firmino was Liverpool’s only prior injury issue, but the Brazilian has recovered from his foot problem and was on the bench for the Premier League game against Aston Villa midweek.
There has been one new issue to deal with, after starting midfielder Fabinho limped off in midweek with a hamstring injury. He will miss the May 14 FA Cup final, but he’s expected to be ready for the Champions League final on May 28.
Klopp will have decisions to make at center back (Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate alongside Virgil Van Dijk) and in attack, where there are more starting-caliber players than spots on the field: Portuguese striker Diogo Jota has lost his regular place to new fan favorite Luis Diaz.
Lastly, Klopp must also decide whether to stick with Caomihin Kelleher for the Cup final, having deployed the youngster thus far through the competition, or move to regular starter Allison in goal. Klopp has spoken very highly of Kelleher’s heroics throughout the FA Cup, and the German has given youngsters their deserved chances in the past.
Liverpool projected starting lineup (4-3-3, right to left): Kelleher (GK) — Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson — Keita, Henderson, Thiago — Salah, Mane, Diaz.
MORE: Liverpool and Chelsea’s previous meetings in Cup finals
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While Klopp has achieved great heights at Liverpool, the German boss has yet to beat his countrymate Tuchel in regulation during the latter’s time at Chelsea. The League Cup penalty shootout victory this past February, which followed a 0-0 draw, is Klopp’s only victory across four meetings with their current clubs, with two Premier League games ending in a draw alongside a 1-0 Chelsea win.
Only one of those four games hit the over 2.5 goals mark, as the two managers look to win the chess match each time out. Chelsea’s defense has been solid in FA Cup play, blanking Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace in the last two rounds. Liverpool conceded twice to a prolific Man City side in its semifinal, but the Reds have also been extremely good at the back of late, conceding just four goals in their last 10 Premier League matches.
Taking both teams not to score is a decent bet based on the above, but Liverpool has been blanked only three times in 59 matches across all competitions this season, with goals in both matches against Chelsea this season. The under 2.5 total goals might be the better play instead since neither side will allow the final to get out of control and get away from them.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals (-110 on DraftKings)
Prediction: Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool