MX23RW : Tuesday, May 24 22:50:29| >> :60:395:395:
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May 14, 2022 at 4.45pm UK at Wembley Stadium
0 - 0

James (77')
Liverpool win 6-5 on penalties

Preview: Liverpool vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's FA Cup clash between Liverpool and Chelsea, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Not for the first time this season, Liverpool and Chelsea renew hostilities at Wembley Stadium with a trophy on the line, this time doing battle in the final of the 141st FA Cup final.

For the London club, the FA Cup represents the only piece of domestic silverware left on the line this season, and fellow capital side Crystal Palace were no match for the Blues' superiority in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Liverpool won one of their many battles of dominance with Manchester City to make it to the showpiece event, and the prospect of a four-trophy haul is still lingering in the minds of the travelling Merseyside fans.

Match preview

Jurgen Klopp in charge of Liverpool on May 7, 2022© Reuters

Jurgen Klopp is surely sick of the sound of the word quadruple by now, but while his team are in with a realistic chance of producing the unthinkable - even though the prospect of Manchester City dropping points in the Premier League seems slim - the Kop will not stop dreaming.

Never one to hold back about his feelings on the packed fixture schedule, Klopp has navigated the daunting period with aplomb to keep Liverpool in with a shot of adding four trophies to their cabinet, but such fatigue may have started to become apparent in their last few fixtures.

Indeed, Liverpool needed a brilliant second-half comeback to dump Villarreal out of the Champions League, looked somewhat devoid of ideas against Tottenham Hotspur and were far from their free-flowing best against Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa in midweek.

Klopp's multitude of changes must of course be taken into account, as Joel Matip and Sadio Mane turned the game on its head following Douglas Luiz's third-minute opener, but the gap to Man City at the top of the Premier League table remains at three points with only two league matches left to play.

Liverpool players celebrate Fabinho's goal against Villarreal in the Champions League on May 3, 2022© Reuters

The top-flight title is therefore out of their own hands, but the EFL Cup has already been placed in the trophy case, a journey to Paris for another Champions League final with Real Madrid awaits, and the Reds are potentially only 90 minutes away from ending a 16-year drought in the FA Cup.

For all of his successful endeavours in other tournaments, Klopp had never taken Liverpool beyond the fifth round of the FA Cup before the 2021-22 edition, as the Reds saw off Shrewsbury Town, Cardiff City, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest and Man City to book their Wembley appearance.

Not since the infamous Gerrard stunner of 2006 have Liverpool got their hands on the FA Cup - defeating West Ham United on penalties that year - and they will bring a 15-game unbeaten run in all tournaments into Saturday's final since that inconsequential Champions League loss to Inter Milan at Anfield.

Seven of their last eight have ended in victory, but given their extremely high defensive standards, a three-game run without a clean sheet has been something of a harsh reality check, and there are plenty more strenuous battles to fight for Liverpool over the next fortnight.

However, the prospect of completing a domestic cup double for the first time since the 2000-01 season is one that Liverpool will be in no mood to pass up, and even if the tie goes to penalties like it did in 2006, Klopp's side have Chelsea's number in that department.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel during the 3-0 win against Leeds United on May 11, 2022.© Reuters

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's subtle dink and flip in 2020. Youri Tielemans's wonder strike in 2021. Chelsea's FA Cup dreams have been dashed at the final hurdle by two memorable goals in the past two finals, and Thomas Tuchel's side need no added motivation to prove that the third time is indeed the charm.

Starting the season as European champions before adding the world label to their name tag, Chelsea can only enjoy another couple of weeks as reigning Champions League holders, and even third place in the Premier League was not all that safe for a long while.

However, on the back of Todd Boehly's consortium being confirmed as the club's new owners, the Blues ended a three-game winless run in the Premier League with a straightforward 3-0 success over Leeds United on Wednesday, as Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku deepened the Whites' demotion fears.

The Blues no longer need to travel outside of the capital before the season is done and dusted - rounding off the Premier League campaign at home to Leicester City and Watford - and they were quick to shatter the Crystal Palace dream in the semi-finals of the FA Cup last month.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-finals on April 17, 2022.© Reuters

Chesterfield, Plymouth Argyle, Luton Town and Middlesbrough have also been sent packing at the hands of Chelsea in this year's tournament, although they made hard work of more than one of those ties against lower-league opposition, and a ninth FA Cup crown would see them become the outright third-most successful team in the tournament - currently sharing that accolade with Tottenham Hotspur.

Since Liverpool last got their hands on the cup 16 years ago, Chelsea have triumphed in the 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2018 editions - even beating Liverpool in the London Olympics year - and they have found the back of the net at least twice in all of their FA Cup games this term, amassing 14 in total.

By leading the Blues out for their fourth domestic final since his appointment as manager, Tuchel will equal Jose Mourinho's record in that department, but a record of just two wins from their last six games does not make for pleasant reading for those in blue ahead of Saturday's showpiece event.

Chelsea can breathe a little easier in the knowledge that they should now wrap up a top-four finish in the Premier League with minimal difficulty, and ending the season with another FA Cup in the glass case would be a surefire way for Tuchel to write his name into the new owners' good books early doors.

No team has ever suffered three consecutive FA Cup final defeats since the turn of the millennium, but Arsenal defeated Sheffield Wednesday both times when the same two sides last met in the EFL Cup and FA Cup finals in a single season back in 1992-93, and Chelsea could take some inspiration from their capital counterparts if their Wembley hoodoo is to end with a slice of revenge against Liverpool added into the mix.

Liverpool FA Cup form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Liverpool form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Chelsea FA Cup form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Chelsea form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W

Team News

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Fabinho as he is substituted on May 10, 2022© Reuters

Whether it be down to the tireless work of the medical department or sheer dumb luck, Liverpool's treatment room has remained virtually empty during their busy period, with Roberto Firmino back on the bench at Villa Park following a foot injury.

However, the Reds have been dealt a killer blow after Fabinho hobbled off with an apparent hamstring problem in Tuesday night's victory, but the midfielder should be back for the Champions League final.

With much still to play for after Saturday's final is done and dusted, Klopp is sure to avoid taking any risks over Fabinho if he is not 100% fit, but he should be Liverpool's only absentee for the final.

In spite of Caoimhin Kelleher's EFL Cup exploits, Klopp is sure to hand Alisson Becker the gloves for the FA Cup final, where Andy Robertson will return after enjoying a complete rest in midweek.

Thiago Alcantara, Ibrahima Konate, Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah are also among those primed to return to the first XI, with the latter potentially joining Chelsea's nemesis Mane and star signing Luis Diaz in the final third.

In very similar fashion, Chelsea also witnessed one of their midfield stalwarts leave the field with a concerning injury in midweek, as Mateo Kovacic was on the receiving end of a dreadful tackle from Daniel James at Elland Road, for which the Leeds man was sent off for.

The Croatian injured the same ankle in the semi-final win over Crystal Palace, although Tuchel has not ruled out the possibility of him playing some part, while Jorginho made a timely return from an issue of his own in midweek.

N'Golo Kante's comeback would also be welcomed with open arms, but Tuchel is "90% sure" that Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be in the middle for Saturday's final, where Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi will watch on from the sidelines.

Romelu Lukaku's redemption arc continued with another goal in the win over Leeds following his brace against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the need for a physical presence against the likes of Konate and Virgil van Dijk could tempt Tuchel into handing the Belgian another start here.

Pulisic's goal in midweek has also given Tuchel food for thought - as well as Timo Werner's five contributions in the FA Cup this term, the most of any player in the tournament (two goals and three assists) - but Kai Havertz is well-rested and will expect to force his way back into the lineup.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Mount; Havertz, Lukaku

Head To Head

Saturday's FA Cup final will mark the 192nd meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in all competitions, with the Reds amassing 83 victories compared to 65 for the Blues, while there have also been 43 stalemates in that period.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was the guilty party as Liverpool defeated Chelsea on penalties in February's EFL Cup final - their third victory in cup finals over Chelsea following the 2006 Community Shield and 2019 UEFA Super Cup.

The only previous FA Cup final showdown between the two clubs ended in a 2-1 success for Chelsea a decade ago, while both Premier League encounters this season have ended all square, suggesting that a tight contest could certainly be on the menu here.

SM words green background

We say: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea

With neither Tuchel nor Klopp likely to be able to put out their desired midfield combinations on the Wembley turf, expect an open-ended encounter in Saturday's gargantuan final, and there are added incentives on both sides to get the job done.

Securing a first-ever FA Cup title with Liverpool would be the perfect way for Klopp to celebrate his recent contract extension, while Chelsea's new ownership will have a very keen eye on the weekend's exploits in the capital.

However, Liverpool were able to grant more of their star names a midweek rest and taught Man City a lesson in attacking dominance in the semi-finals - whereas Chelsea's Wembley curse is yet to be lifted - so we expect the red side of the stadium to be celebrating after 90 minutes as the Blues' FA Cup misery is prolonged.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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