Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Prediction: Chelsea vs Liverpool

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 23 Feb 2024

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Verdict: Draw

Best odds: 5/2

Bookmaker: BetUS

Chelsea and Liverpool with face each other in the final of this season’s Carabao Cup on Sunday at Wembley. It will be their third clash of 2023/24, and their third meeting in a Cup final in two years.

They played against each other in the finals of both domestic cups in England in 2021/22, and both ended goalless after which Liverpool took the trophies on penalties. They met at Stamford Bridge in the opening round of the current Premier League campaign in a match that ended 1-1, and Liverpool thoroughly outplayed Chelsea in the reverse fixture at Anfield on the last day of January, winning 4-1.

Chelsea

It’s been another difficult campaign for Chelsea, loaded with disappointing results on the back of a transfer window when they spent significant amounts of money on reinforcements. At the moment, the Blues are 10th in the Premier League table, with no more than 35 points to show for their efforts over 25 matches.

After losing to Liverpool at the end of January, Mauricio Pochettino’s team was beaten at home by Wolverhampton Wanderers, another huge setback in their attempts to climb up the table, but since then, there’s been a notable upturn in their form. They beat Aston Villa away in the FA Cup, as well as Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, and gave defending Premier League champions Manchester City a run for their money in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad last week. It was former City (and Liverpool) winger Raheem Sterling who broke the deadlock, but Rodri managed to equalize with a deflected shot late on.

There’s no doubt that Chelsea will be motivated to get some revenge on Liverpool on Sunday, for the 2022 finals, as well as the recent Anfield thrashing.

Team News

Pochettino is currently without a number of defenders, with Thiago Silva (unspecified), Wesley Fofana (knee), Benoit Badiashile (groin), Reece James (thigh) and Marc Cucurella (ankle) all set to miss the final. The same goes for midfielder Romeo Lavia (thigh), a reported Liverpool target last summer who chose Stamford Bridge as his destination instead.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Robert Sanchez has returned to team training, though it remains to be seen if he’s ready to replace Djordje Petrovic, who has been doing relatively well in his absence.

Sterling’s fine showing against one of his former clubs should be enough to seem him start against another, with Nicolas Jackson and Christopher Nkunku likely to join him upfront. Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez and Cole Palmer should play in the middle of the park. Levi Colwill should pair up with Axel Disasi in the heart of the back line, flanked by Ben Chilwell and Malo Gusto.

Liverpool

As for Liverpool, they also shouldn’t lack motivation for this game as they aim to give manager Jurgen Klopp a sendoff as glorious as possible. It’s the first opportunity for silverware this season, and there are still quite reasonable chances for them to win on the remaining three fronts as well.

At the moment, the Reds top the Premier League table with 60 points, four more than Manchester City in second and five more than Arsenal in third, though it should be said that they’ve played a game more than either of their rivals. Only one thing seems pretty certain at this point: the race will be extremely interesting.

In the Europa League, Liverpool have just found out they’ll be facing Sparta Prague in the round of 16, a relatively favourable draw (with all due respect to the Czech side), particularly with the league derby against Manchester City at Anfield to come in between the two legs.

In the FA Cup, Klopp’s team disposed of Arsenal in the third round and thumped Norwich in the fourth, setting up a fifth-round meeting with Southampton three days after this final.

All things seem to be going Liverpool’s way at the moment, all but one.

Team News

The only real problem Klopp will have to work around is the state of this squad. No less than 11 players missed the victory over Luton Town. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker (hamstring) is out, which makes Caomhin Kelleher nailed on to start between the posts. Defenders Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold (both knee), midfielders Stefan Bajcetic (muscle), Thiago Alcantara (thigh), and Curtis Jones (ankle), as well as forward Diogo Jota (knee), are all ruled out too.

Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai missed the Luton game but there is a chance he might be ready by Sunday. The same goes for attackers Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez.

Left-back Andy Robertson played the final 25 minutes of the game against the hatters, coming off the bench to replace Conor Bradley, but it’s quite possible that both will start against Chelsea, while Joe Gomez drops to the bench. Ibrahima Konate is expected to return to the lineup and partner Virgil van Dijk, ahead of Jarrell Quansah.

Upfront, Klopp is likely to name an unchanged line, containing Harvey Elliott, Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz, and a potential return of Salah and Nunez to the fold should provide the six-time European champions with high-quality options from the bench.

Conclusion

Liverpool would surely be considered favourites under normal circumstances, but their injury list will give Chelsea some hope that they can beat their foes this time.

On the other hand, five of the last eight games between these rivals ended without a winner over 90 minutes, and that might well prove to be the case here as well.

Verdict: Draw

Best odds: 5/2

Bookmaker: BetUS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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