Chelsea vs Liverpool news: Resilient Reds to squeeze past Blues in FA Cup final

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Liverpool's title hopes look to be fading fast after Manchester City's rapid recovery from that incredible last-gasp loss to Read Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

But the chance of collecting three cups in this most memorable of seasons for the Merseysiders remains high.

The Reds beat Chelsea to land the first, the Carabao Cup, and once again it's the Blues they face when Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel battle for glory in Saturday's FA Cup final.

Chelsea have had their wobbles in recent months but could be coming into some form again at the ideal time.

When: Saturday, May 14, 16:45 GMT

Where: Wembley

Follow this game via our score centre

Who is the ref for Chelsea vs Liverpool

Premier League referee Craig Pawson looks on
Premier League referee Craig Pawson looks on

Craig Pawson is the man in the middle for the Wembley clash.

The South Yorkshire official also took charge of Liverpool's quarter-final win over Nottingham Forest, booking just a single player in the game (Joe Gomez). He's been the ref for two Chelsea matches this season, their 2-0 win over Spurs and the 1-0 loss at Manchester City. He showed only three yellows across those two matches. That's quite a way below his average of just over four bookings per game.

Season stats 2021/22: All matches (36), yellows (149), red (6), penalties (5)

Recent form

Are there signs that Liverpool's heavy schedule is taking a toll? In the last two matches they've drawn 1-1 at home to Spurs - a game that looks set to be costly in the title race - and edged past Aston Villa 2-1.

However, they were 1-0 down in both those encounters so to come back and win four points shows that there's plenty of fight still left in this Liverpool team.

Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane

That was also on display when the Reds recovered from 2-0 down at Villarreal to win 3-2 in Spain and punch their ticket to Paris for the Champions League final.

'Mentality monsters', as Klopp calls them, seems a justified tag and, bottom line, despite not racking up big winning scorelines, Liverpool have won seven of their last eight matches.

Chelsea have been in a bit of a funk, taking just two points out of nine in the Premier League when drawing with Manchester United and Wolves and losing at Everton.

However, they at least gave themselves some momentum by cruising to a 3-0 win over Leeds on Wednesday night, not expending too much energy either after their hosts were reduced to 10 men after just 24 minutes.

That result just about wrapped up their Champions League spot for next season but four defeats and two draws since the start of April shows they've had a bumpy ride for the last couple of months.

Liverpool and Chelsea players in form

Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz have been the standout stars in Liverpool's latest winning run. And they showed that once more at Villa Park when Diaz crossed for Mane to expertly head in the second-half winner. That gave Mane eight goals in his last 11 games. Thiago Alcantara has really found a groove in midfield and will be desperate to impress at Wembley having had to sit out the Carabao Cup final after injuring himself in the pre-match warm-up.

For Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku has finally found some form at last.

Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku
Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku

After just one goal in 10 games - an FA Cup strike at Championship side Middlesbrough - he's netted three in the last two matches after a brace against Wolves and a late strike at Leeds. Mason Mount had a goal and an assist at Elland Road. Widening the focus the England man has five goals and four assists in his last eight games in all competitions.

Last three meetings

Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool (Liverpool won 11-10 on pens, February 27, 2022)

All three meetings between the pair this season have been tight and this Wembley encounter took that to new levels after 120 minutes of the Carabao Cup final had somehow failed to produce a goal. Remarkably, all 20 outfield players netted in the penalty shootout, meaning the two goalkeepers had to try their luck from the spot. Liverpool's Caoimhin Kelleher, given the nod by Klopp to start the game, fired home but Chelsea stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had been brought on especially for the shootout, blazed his effort over the bar.

Before the penalty-kick drama, Chelsea had three 'goals' ruled out for offside while the Reds saw a Joel Matip effort disallowed after a VAR review.

Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool (January 2, 2022)

In a pulsating clash at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea fought back from 2-0 down to earn a well-deserved point.

The Blues looked bright in the opening exchanges but Liverpool hit them twice in the first half-hour as Mane cashed in on a mistake in the ninth minute and Mo Salah netted a superb second 17 minutes later.

But with Klopp absent due to a suspected positive Covid test, the Reds boss could only sit and watch from afar as Chelsea pulled level thanks to a brilliant volley from Mateo Kovacic on 42 and a second from Christian Pulisic in first-half injury time. Both sides had chances to grab a winner after the break but defences held firm.

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea (August 28, 2021)

Both teams went into this early season fixture with identical records (two wins out of two, five goals scored, none conceded). Chelsea struck the first blow when Reece James headed home from a 22nd-minute corner but the wing-back was later sent off for blocking a shot on the line with his hand on the stroke of half-time. Salah put away the penalty but, despite having the extra man, Liverpool couldn't break down the well-drilled Blues' defence in a frustrating second 45 and had to settle for a point.

Past 10 meetings

Chelsea wins: 2 Draws: 4 Liverpool wins: 4 Chelsea goals: 12 Liverpool goals: 16

Manager's thoughts

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel not happy during FA Cup Semi-Final
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel not happy during FA Cup Semi-Final

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel on whether the FA Cup final will be a high-intensity affair: "Anything else would surprise me. It started with last season’s win at Anfield. Started very early in this season, with a draw at Anfield and then a draw at Stamford Bridge, a draw over 120 minutes and 20 something penalties at Wembley.

"Very close, very intense matches. We always need our very highest level to compete, but we found it in the matches. I don’t expect crazy new things from them and also from us. The game is on tomorrow. A big final, big competition. We want to be spot on.”

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool Feb22
Jurgen Klopp Liverpool Feb22

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the FA Cup final: "It's a big expectation, to be honest. It is our first FA Cup final but we played two Carabao Cup finals - once we lost, once we won - so we have a little bit of a sense of the atmosphere, which is absolutely great.

"I loved the Carabao Cup final this year, it was an incredible game, it was against Chelsea and 120 minutes - madness! So, yeah, massive game coming up and you are right: final after final after final, but we make differences still. That's a real final, there is no game coming after. So yeah, we are all really looking forward to it. It will be big."

Predicted Chelsea vs Liverpool teams

Chelsea have some concerns in midfield after likely Wembley starter Mateo Kovacic suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury following a terrible tackle from Daniel James at Elland Road. N'Golo Kante is also a doubt after missing recent games and Tuchel looks likely to go with Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in central midfield. In attack, Lukaku is pushing for a start after his burst of three goals in two games but Tuchel has plenty of other options.

Possible Chelsea starting line-up: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, James, Alonso, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Mount, Havertz, Lukaku.

Liverpool suffered a blow when midfield lynchpin Fabinho was forced off at Villa Park with what looked like a hamstring problem.

He won't be fit in time so the Reds are likely to go with a midfield three of Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita.

Liverpool's Naby Keita (right) celebrates scoring their side's first goal
Liverpool's Naby Keita (right) celebrates scoring their side's first goal

Up front, Mane and Salah are guaranteed starters, with the in-form Diaz likely to get the nod ahead of Diogo Jota. Klopp must also decide between Matip and Ibrahima Konate as Virgil van Dijk's central defensive partner.

Possible Liverpool starting line-up: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Henderson, Keita, Thiago, Diaz, Mane, Salah.

Chelsea vs Liverpool prediction

This pair have produced 90-minute scorelines of 1-1, 2-2 and 0-0 so far this season so they're clearly very evenly matched when going head to head. Liverpool are feeling the strain of trying to land the quadruple but having beaten Chelsea on penalties and then Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final, Wembley has been a happy hunting ground for them in recent times.

It's surely going to be tight again but Liverpool are the more trustworthy and Klopp can guide his men to a narrow 2-1 victory and a first FA Cup triumph since 2006.

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