CHELSEA VS. LIVERPOOL
| Sunday, February 27th |
Carabao Cup Final | Wembley Stadium
4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST
It’s been 10 years since the last time Liverpool won the League Cup trophy. That time it was under Kenny Dalglish, and the win marked the first big success for new Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group. The game wasn’t the team’s finest display. They played their strongest team against Championship side Cardiff City, win the likes of Daniel Agger, Luis Suarez, and Steven Gerrard all on the pitch. This was only enough to get them a 2-2 draw by the end of extra time, but they prevailed on penalties.
It took some time and patience, but eventually the Reds made their way back into the English and European elite. They pushed through to two consecutive Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, winning it all in 2019. The next year, they took home the Premier League title as well.
Liverpool’s luck has turned around in the last decade. Nearly everything about the team manager Jürgen Klopp and his assistant Pep Lijnders field this Sunday will be very different from Dalglish’s, save for one thing: Jordan Henderson. Liverpool’s stalwart captain is likely to start this match, just like he did for Liverpool’s last Carabao Cup victory.
The big team news from Liverpool is that Roberto Firmino will be unavailable, while Diogo Jota is a toss-up after sustaining an ankle injury against Inter Milan.
Matches between Liverpool and Chelsea have been tight and well-matched affairs, with both of their encounters this season ending in draws. Chelsea have won the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup already this season, and they’re going to Wembley hoping to make it three for three.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are still in the fight for all four trophies this season, and winning this first competition could hopefully propel them through the spring.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mané, Diaz
Aside from the aforementioned Firmino and Jota, Klopp has his whole team to choose from. Klopp has made it clear that Caoimhin Kelleher has earned the right to play in the final after his strong performances in the earlier rounds.
For Thomas Tuchel, Ben Chilwell is the only player guaranteed to miss the match. Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech are both doubtful after going off injured midweek, but could still feature.
What the Managers Had to Say
Pep Lijnders: “Yeah, a final sounds good, I think; [a final in] February sounds good; Champions League in February sounds really good. Wembley makes it special for the club, for us. We are going to prepare as well as we can and we really look forward to it.”
Thomas Tuchel: “We have things to trust on, have experienced tight matches against Liverpool as I think the last three were a draw. We will find a win somehow and we know what it takes to have a tough match against them and now we need to show it. It’s the same for them and it’s nice to have a match like this in a final.”
Referee: Stuart Atwell Assistant Referees: Dan Cook and Daniel Robathan Fourth Official: Andrew Madley Reserve Assistant Referee: Tim Wood VAR: Darren England AVAR: Simon Bennett
Kickoff is set for 4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.