4th May 2012
Liverpool arrive to Wembley looking to lift the second trophy of the season after beating Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final at the same ground, whereas Chelsea aim to forget the disappointment of the Premier League defeat to Newcastle that served as a bitter blow to team’s Champions League hopes and win their first title after two years.
Had someone told Roberto Di Matteo his side would qualify for two major finals when he was taking over the reigns from Andre Villas-Boas, the Italian would have probably called them a mad man, but the reality is Chelsea have a unique chance of winning two major trophies. Premiership top 4 finish remained just a dream as the under-strength Blues were beaten at home by Newcastle, but they can now make amends for the poor league position by beating Liverpool to the FA Cup trophy. Even if Chelsea lose this game, they will get another shot at glory, but chances of defeating Liverpool at neutral ground are much bigger than those of beating Bayern in the Champions League final at Alianz Arena and that is something everybody at the club is well aware of. Looking at team’s recent performances and the good atmosphere in the squad, it looks as though one cannot go wrong with backing the Blues here, although the absence of David Luiz and Gary Cahill could prove to be a problem. The good news is that Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Juan Mata and Ashley Cole are back after they were rested in midweek.
Liverpool have once again failed to mount a serious top 4 challenge in the Premiership and the prospect of finishing the league campaign behind arch rivals Everton is enough to send shivers down the spine of every Reds fan, but the Anfield outfit can still save this season provided they beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final. Having already won the Carling Cup trophy, the Reds would turn this season into a success with yet another domestic title, but outclassing in-form Chelsea at Wembley will be no easy task. Team’s form has been a bit sketchy of late, with one point from last four home games in the Premiership an awful record for the side of Liverpool’s stature, and, odds as it may sound, the Reds will probably be happy that this game is not played at Anfield. While I seriously doubt past meetings play a part in deciding the outcome of a match, it is important to note here that on all three occasions Liverpool had defeated Everton in an FA Cup semis, they went on to lose in the final. Everything suggests the trend will continue. Apart from long-term casualties Lucas Leiva and Charlie Adam, Kenny Dalglish will have fully fit squad to choose from.
While these matches tend to be pretty unpredictable, I just can’t look past Chelsea in this one. The Blues have shown a remarkable uptrend in fortunes over the last couple of months and appear to be in much better form than Liverpool, a team that are heavily relying on Luis Suarez at the moment.
Verdict: Chelsea to lift the trophy
Best Odds: 3/4