CHELSEA face-off against Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) takes a closer look at the FA Cup final.
Chelsea vs Liverpool | Saturday 14th May 2022, 16:45 | BBC
The 150th FA Cup final sees Liverpool continue their quest for silverware against Chelsea in a repeat of the League Cup showpiece.
On that day in February, it came down to penalties after a goalless 120 minutes. Thomas Tuchel rolled dice and brought on Kepa for the spot-kicks, but it backfired when the Spanish keeper blazed his effort over the bar to gift Liverpool the trophy.
And Chelsea don’t have a good recent record in FA Cup finals, losing the last two. They lost 2-1 to Arsenal in 19/20 and went down 1-0 to Youri Tielemans’ screamer against Leicester 12 months ago.
Chelsea are bidding to win the famous trophy for the ninth time. While, if it goes Liverpool’s way, they’ll join the Blues with eight successes in the competition. And it would be the first time the Merseyside club have won the FA Cup since the Steven Gerrard final at the Millennium Stadium in 2005/06.
Will it be a second trophy for Liverpool this season? Or, will Chelsea end the Reds’ quadruple hopes?
Coming into this one, both managers are likely to have absences. Jurgen Klopp saw Fabinho limp off in the first half against Aston Villa and the Brazilian is ruled out.
And the German manager will make wholesale changes to the starting XI from Villa Park after being able to rest the likes of Thiago, Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson.
While for Tuchel, he’s likely to be without Mateo Kovačić after he was on the receiving end of a heavy challenge from Dan James, which saw the Leeds player see red on Wednesday. It could mean that Ruben Loftus-Cheek gets the nod.
I’m going straight in with a shots double for two prominent Liverpool attackers. I’ve backed Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane both to have over 1.5 shots in the match. It came out at 20/21 (Bet365), which looks a big price to two players who generally rack up shots. For comparison, Ladbrokes were around 1/2 for the same bet.
Diaz is likely to earn his place after impressing in recent weeks and keep Diogo Jota out of the side. The Colombian forward is averaging 2.9 shots per game since his move to the Premier League, firing in 2+ efforts in eight of his 10 starts. Plus, he also rattled in three in 31 minutes from off the bench against Everton last month.
He’s also racked up the shots in the Champions League for the Reds, hitting 4, 2, 5 and 4 in his last four apps. He only played seven minutes in the second leg against Inter Milan, but still was able to manage one.
Put his line in with Mane to get a tidy double. The Senegalese international tends to get lost amidst the magic of Salah from time to time, yet it was his goal on Tuesday at Villa Park that kept Liverpool in the title race…only just.
He averages 2.9 shots in the Premier League this season and has had at least two shots in 25 of his appearances. In both league games against the Blues, he’s managed to have three at Anfield and two at Stamford Bridge.
The 30-year-old enjoyed his most recent visit to Wembley, scoring twice in the first half of their semi-final success over Man City. While in the League Cup final against today’s opponents, he recorded two shots in 80 minutes.
The industrious forward enjoys coming up against Chelsea as well. He’s scored six goals against the Blues since joining Liverpool in 2016/17 – a number no other player can beat. He’s 9/4 (Sky Bet) to bag anytime.
My second bet is to follow a pattern that emerges when you look into finals involving these two sides. It’s to back this to be a draw at half-time, which is 6/5 with Sky Bet.
Chelsea have played in the last two FA Cups finals. At half-time against Arsenal, it was 1-1, while against Leicester, it was goalless. And when the sides met in the League Cup final, that was also 0-0 at the break.
Backing meetings between these two to be level at half-time has been profitable in recent times with it copping in four of their last six – 0-0, 1-0 Chelsea, 1-1, 2-2 and 0-0 – that includes all three clashes this season.
Given that cup finals tend to be more tentative affairs early on with both sides throwing jabs, then we could see yet another slow burner in the first half. I’m happy to take it to be a draw at half-time, while there will be some lapping up the 2/1 about it being 0-0 at the break (Bet365).
FA Cup finals do tend to be close affairs. Since 2006/07, when Chelsea beat Man Utd in extra time, 10 finals have been won by a one-goal margin and three have seen 120 minutes. The only exception to that was Man City’s 6-0 demolition against Watford. So, that should set the scene for a closely-fought clash under the famous arch.
Chelsea vs Liverpool – Luis Diaz & Sadio Mane both over 1.5 shots (20/21 Bet365)
Chelsea vs Liverpool – Half-time: Draw (6/5 SkyBet)