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Chelsea logo
EFL Cup | Final
Feb 25, 2024 at 3pm UK
Stamford Bridge
Liverpool logo

0 - 1

Chilwell (45+3'), Palmer (120+2')
van Dijk (118')
Bradley (45+3'), Mac Allister (81'), Konate (82'), McConnell (107'), Gomez (120+3')

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

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

In a repeat of the 2021-22 EFL Cup final, Chelsea and Liverpool will scrap it out at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, fighting for the right to lift the first domestic honour of the 2023-24 campaign.

Jurgen Klopp's men broke Blues hearts via a penalty shootout two years ago and are most people's picks to send their foes home empty-handed once again, even if their absentee list now stretches into the double figures.

Match preview

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts on February 7, 2024© Reuters

After five admirable but agonising trophyless years as Tottenham Hotspur head coach, current Chelsea incumbent Mauricio Pochettino is potentially just 90 or 120 minutes away from earning a belated major honour in English football - one which many did not give the mid-table Blues a hope of winning when the season commenced.

Chelsea have also been forced to navigate their way around an additional contest in comparison to Liverpool owing to their failure to qualify for Europe, but AFC Wimbledon, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough have all tried and failed to block the Blues' path to Wembley.

Michael Carrick's Boro led at half time in their two-legged semi-final thanks to a 1-0 Riverside success, but Chelsea responded emphatically with a 6-1 Stamford Bridge slaughter to reach EFL Cup final number 10, where they will endeavour to collect their winners' medals for the sixth time in tournament history.

Both of the Blues' last two appearances in the EFL Cup showpiece have ended in penalty-shootout despair, though, and a new page of unwanted English football history could now be written by Chelsea, who are at risk of becoming the first team in the land to ever lose six domestic cup finals on the trot.

In brighter news, Pochettino's men bring a three-game unbeaten run with them to Wembley - securing back-to-back 3-1 wins over Aston Villa (FA Cup) and Crystal Palace (Premier League) before swallowing a bitter pill in a hard-earned 1-1 draw with Manchester City - the latter of which saw a deflected Rodri strike penetrate the Blues' seemingly unbreakable backline.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reacts on February 21, 2024© Reuters

None of Leicester City, Bournemouth, West Ham United or Fulham faced an unbreakable Liverpool backline, meanwhile, but despite conceding in all of their EFL Cup affairs so far this season, the Reds' propensity for multiple-goal showings and terrific turnarounds puts them on the brink of the first step towards a famous quadruple.

Jurgen Klopp will be manning his technical area for the final time in EFL Cup circumstances on Sunday afternoon, where Liverpool will bid to reach double figures in tournament successes - already hoisting the crown aloft an unparalleled nine times - and a 14th appearance in the final will also be a record-extending achievement.

Only four of the Reds' previous 13 outings in the EFL Cup showpiece have seen them come out second best, but the travelling fans may be in it for the long haul once again this weekend, as each of their side's last three appearances in the final have seen the destiny of the title decided by spot kicks.

Still vying for Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup glory at this juncture, Liverpool trek south on the back of three successive triumphs over Burnley, Brentford and Luton Town - notching at least three goals in each of those victories - although each of their last seven contests has seen Klopp's men both score and concede.

However, one of those matches was January's 4-1 crushing of Chelsea in the Premier League at Anfield, which extended their unbeaten streak over the West London outfit to eight games and also ended a run of seven successive draws between the sides after 90 minutes. Two of those stalemates came at Wembley in 2022, though, where Chelsea fell at the final 12-yard hurdle in the EFL Cup and FA Cup, so revenge will be the dish of the day for those clad in blue.

Chelsea EFL Cup form:

Chelsea form (all competitions):

Liverpool EFL Cup form:

Liverpool form (all competitions):

Team News

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their third goal on February 17, 2024© Reuters

Chelsea's masterful defensive display at the Etihad came in spite of a few selection concerns at the back, as none of Benoit Badiashile (groin), Reece James (thigh), Wesley Fofana (knee) or Marc Cucurella (ankle) played in that game, and only the latter has a slim chance of coming back for the weekend.

Soon-to-be 40-year-old Thiago Silva - who has lost all three of his domestic cup finals with Chelsea - also relinquished his place in the squad against Man City owing to a groin concern and is still a doubt for the final, but Pochettino will surely see no need to alter his rearguard formula.

As such, Djordje Petrovic could retain possession of the gloves ahead of Robert Sanchez - now back from a knee problem and personal issue - but Carney Chukwuemeka (ankle), Lesley Ugochukwu (thigh) and former Liverpool target Romeo Lavia (also thigh) will be missing from the ranks as well.

Onto the ravaged Reds, who must cope without all of Alisson Becker (hamstring), Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee), Ben Doak (knee), Stefan Bajcetic (calf), Joel Matip (ACL), Diogo Jota (knee), Thiago Alcantara (muscle) and Curtis Jones (shin) on Sunday, and large question marks are still hovering above the heads of others.

After leaving the Brentford game a little worse for wear, neither Mohamed Salah nor Darwin Nunez were passed fit for Wednesday's clash with Luton, and Pep Lijnders said on Friday that the duo would require last-minute fitness tests over the weekend - thigh victim Dominik Szoboszlai is in the same boat.

Regardless of Nunez and Salah's respective fitness levels, Cody Gakpo has earned his EFL Cup stars this season with four goals in the competition - only Morgan Rogers boasts more with five - while Harvey Elliott ran Luton ragged in Salah's place on Wednesday and is in line for Liverpool appearance number 101 at Wembley.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Colwill, Chilwell; Caicedo, Fernandez; Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling; Jackson

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Gravenberch, Endo, Mac Allister; Elliott, Gakpo, Diaz

SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

According to Pochettino, something "clicked" for Chelsea after they were torn to pieces by Liverpool at Anfield a few weeks ago, and the Argentine's desire to finally win a major trophy in English football burns brighter than ever.

Liverpool's streak of conceding at least once in every EFL Cup fixture this season should continue against the revitalised Blues, but defence is not where the biggest concerns lie for Liverpool, whose prospects of success will certainly decrease if none of Salah, Nunez or Szoboszlai make the cut.

However, Klopp's faith in academy prospects and fringe players has led to several less revered names stepping up when needed, and with Chelsea unable to shake their curse in domestic cup finals, the comeback kings in red remain our slight favourites to take home the title.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk pictured on January 24, 2024
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