Preview: Liverpool vs. Chelsea – team news and lineups

The second major trophy of the 2021/22 English domestic season will be on the line on Saturday as Liverpool face Chelsea in the finals of the FA Cup. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, having won the Carabao Cup, will be looking to keep their hopes of a quadruple burning bright. Thomas Tuchel’s Blues will aim to add to their trophy cabinet, having already lifted the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup this term.

Liverpool began their FA Cup journey with a 4-1 win over Shrewsbury Town in the third round before seeing off Cardiff City (3-1) and Norwich City (2-1) in the subsequent stages. The Reds overcame Nottingham Forest in the quarter-finals before eliminating arch-rivals Manchester City in the semi-finals by securing a thrilling 3-2 victory.

Liverpool are currently on a 15-game unbeaten run across all competitions and head into Saturday’s finals on the back of a 2-1 comeback win over Aston Villa in the Premier League. With the League Cup already in the bag, the Merseyside giants will be intent on adding the FA Cup to their kitty, before chasing the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

Chelsea started their FA Cup campaign with an easy 5-1 thrashing of Chesterfield Town but were then made to work hard by Plymouth Argyle and Luton Town in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. The Blues prevailed over giant-killers Middlesbrough in the quarter-finals and then saw off London rivals Crystal Palace in the semi-finals.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Chelsea have been handed a boost as both Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante could be in contention to feature against Liverpool. It would mean that the Blues would be without Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi for the blockbuster clash. Thomas Tuchel will recall some of the players that he rested for the game against Leeds United, with Chelsea expected to continue in their 3-4-2-1 formation on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Chelsea have been handed a boost as both Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante could be in contention to feature against Liverpool. It would mean that the Blues would be without Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi for the blockbuster clash. Thomas Tuchel will recall some of the players that he rested for the game against Leeds United, with Chelsea expected to continue in their 3-4-2-1 formation on Saturday.

Tuchel could look to deploy Reece James as the right-sided centre-back to counter Sadio Mane’s pace. But the English international has been one of Chelsea’s main chance-creators from the wing-back slot and should continue in his natural position. On the left side, there is no looking past Marcos Alonso.

Tuchel has expressed some optimism surrounding the availability of Kante and Kovacic. But he might opt to stick with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho in the centre of the park, after the pair impressed in the victory against Leeds United.

Mason Mount will take up the creative mantle and will have support from Christian Pulisic, who has been in good touch in the past couple of matches. Finally, Romelu Lukaku should get the nod in the No. 9 role after having scored three times in the last two matches for Chelsea.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku

Liverpool

Liverpool might have to make do without midfielder Fabinho, who was injured in the last game against Aston Villa. Otherwise, Jurgen Klopp has a fully-fit squad at his disposal ahead of their trip to Wembley. Jurgen Klopp also opted to bench some of his key stars in the midweek clash and will recall them at Wembley.

There will be no looking past Alisson Becker in goal for the Merseysiders. Andrew Robertson, who was given a breather earlier in the week, should return at left-back at the expense of Kostas Tsimikas. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk ought to retain their places in the Liverpool backline.

Fabinho’s potential absence comes as a major blow for Liverpool. In his place, captain Jordan Henderson should slot in at the base of the midfield and look to keep a close eye on Mason Mount. Naby Keita will provide the energy and the legs in the midfield engine room for the Reds. Thiago Alcantara should occupy the third slot in the centre of the park, after not starting against Aston Villa.

Moving up, Mohamed Salah should be recalled to the starting XI, with Diogo Jota making way for the Egyptian superstar. Luis Diaz and the in-form Sadio Mane will complete the Liverpool attack that will cause plenty of problems to the Chelsea defence with their pace, movement, link-up play and dribbling abilities.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz

Key Stats

  • Chelsea and Liverpool clashed in the Carabao Cup final earlier this season. For only the second time, the same two sides will contest in the finals of both the League Cup and the FA Cup in the same campaign.
  • Liverpool will be aiming to win both of England’s domestic cup competitions in the same season for the first time since 2000/01.
  • This will be the fourth meeting of the season between Liverpool and Chelsea. All three of the previous meetings have ended in draws, although the Reds came out on top on penalties in the Carabao Cup.
  • Chelsea are the first team to qualify for three consecutive FA Cup finals since Arsenal between 2000/01 and 2002/03. However, they have lost each of the last two finals against Arsenal and Leicester City.
  • Liverpool have a 50-50 win-loss record in the FA Cup finals, having lifted the trophy on seven of the 14 occasions they have made it to the last stage of the competition.

Player to Watch

Sadio Mane

The in-form player for Liverpool, Sadio Mane is enjoying a fine campaign and has been one of the chief protagonists for Jurgen Klopp’s side, helping them remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple. He has plundered 22 goals in 48 games across all competitions, including the winner against Aston Villa in midweek.

Mane has scored six goals against Chelsea since joining Liverpool in 2016. No other player has netted more against the Blues during this period. Following his brace against Manchester City in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, he is looking to become the first Liverpool player to score in consecutive Wembley appearances (when used as a neutral venue) since Philippe Coutinho (April 2015 and Feb 2016).