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Liverpool vs. Chelsea: 10 key things to know ahead of 2024 Carabao Cup final!

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Liverpool can seal their first silverware of the season on Sunday, as they once again lock horns with Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final.

Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Carabao Cup Final | Wembley Stadium
February 25, 2024 | 3pm (GMT)


For the third time in three seasons, the Reds and the Blues do battle at Wembley, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side prevailing on penalties twice in 2022.

Liverpool go into the match as favourites, but meetings between them and Chelsea are often tight, with so many big cup meetings down the years.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final.

 

1. Another trip to ‘Anfield South’

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp lifts the trophy as his side celebrate winning the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There was a period when Liverpool felt incapable of getting to Wembley under Klopp, barring a League Cup final loss to Man City in 2016.

In 2021/22, however, the Reds won the competition AND the FA Cup, and this weekend represents another wonderful chance to seal another trophy.

Klopp will be hoping to end his Liverpool tenure in the most legendary manner possible, with a quadruple still possible, and the first hurdle is now almost upon us.

A great occasion awaits.

 

2. Chelsea unpredictable but improving

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 13, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (L) is challenged by Chelsea's Thiago Silva during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It feels like a lifetime ago since Liverpool travelled to Chelsea for a 1-1 draw on the opening weekend of the Premier League season – since then, both teams have gone in very different directions.

While the Reds top the league table and aim to win all four trophies, the Blues are languishing in 10th place, with the jury still out on Mauricio Pochettino.

That being said, there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks, not least in the 1-1 draw at Man City last Saturday, and they have individuals who can hurt Liverpool.

Chelsea will surely raise their game in comparison to their limp showing at Anfield last month, losing 4-1, and silverware would suddenly give their season a different complexion.

 

3. Who’s injured for Liverpool?

Unfortunately, Liverpool will have to make do without Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota until after next month’s international break, which is a significant blow.

They remain sidelined along with the likes of Joel Matip, Thiago and Stefan Bajcetic, while fellow absentee Curtis Jones could return “around” the internationals.

On the plus side, key trio Dominik Szoboszlai, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez are all fighting to be fit for the final, and will be assessed in the days preceding kickoff.

Having them back would feel like a huge shot in the arm.

 

4. Does the XI pick itself?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 21, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz (R) celebrates with team-mate captain Virgil van Dijk after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Luton Town FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp doesn’t exactly have a host of options to choose from because of all the injuries, so much of the starting XI picks itself.

Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Bradley, Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk are all guaranteed starters, while Andy Robertson is likely to be preferred to Joe Gomez at left-back.

In midfield, Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister also feel like shoo-ins, and Ryan Gravenberch is the favourite to join them.

Assuming Salah and Nunez are only fit enough for the substitutes’ bench, Harvey Elliott, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo will again make up the front-three.

Possible Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Endo, Mac Allister, Gravenberch; Elliott, Diaz, Gakpo

 

5. How could Chelsea line-up?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 7, 2023: Chelsea's Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Chelsea FC and Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won 2-0, 2-1 on aggregate. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Chelsea don’t have any new injuries, and having had a week off since the City game, they could field the same team the drew at the Etihad.

Axel Disasi and Levi Colwill were both superb at centre-back in that game, so Pochettino will have to decide whether to bring back veteran Thiago Silva, who has a “chance” of being fit.

Liverpool may hope that he does, considering the Brazilian turns 40 this year and is not the player he once was.

Former Reds target Moises Caicedo is performing better now and should partner Enzo Fernandez, while ex-Anfield forward Raheem Sterling is expected to start, too.

Reece James is still out injured, along with the likes of Benoit Badiashile, Wesley Fofana and Romeo Lavia.

Predicted Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Colwill, Chilwell; Caicedo, Fernandez; Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling; Jackson

 

6. Lijnders reveals he had offers to leave Anfield

Speaking to the press on Friday, Pep Lijnders was on excellent form, discussing turning down offers in the past and his exit this summer:

“We knew already in the summer that we are coming toward the end of this project. The last years, I got offers. My heart always said yes, my loyalty and my respect and friendship with Mike and Jurgen said no.

“So, the moment we spoke and he said ‘I’m thinking about [leaving]’ I said that is, for me, clear: I will go and manage.

“We will end this project together. I feel that it’s the project of a lot of people and I feel that it’s the right way to do it, like this. The club can find a new coach with new elements.

“But I’m excited to manage, I’m excited to go, to find the right club who really wants [me]. But until the last final of the season, I’m focused on Liverpool, not on what’s happening now. That’s why we have agents, no?”

Liverpool’s assistant manager will be a big miss when he goes – the biggest compliment you can pay him is that he’s often more insightful than Klopp in press conferences.

 

7. Liverpool’s League Cup final record

2HT8YJG London, UK. 27th Feb, 2022. Caoimhin Kelleher of Liverpool celebrates after winning the Carabao Cup Final match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on February 27th 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Chesterton/phcimages.com) Credit: PHC Images/Alamy Live News

Sunday is the 14th time Liverpool have appeared in the League Cup final, in a competition that they have enjoyed so much success in.

They lost in a replay on their first appearance, being beaten by Nottingham Forest, before sealing four triumphs in a row between 1981 and 1984, beating West Ham (replay), Tottenham, Man United and Everton (replay).

After losing to Arsenal in 1987, a Steve McManaman-inspired Liverpool beat Bolton in the 1995 final, before Birmingham were seen off six years later at the Millennium Stadium.

A sweet-tasting victory over United in 2003 came next, before a sickening loss to Chelsea a couple of years later, and Cardiff were seen off on penalties in 2012.

Klopp tasted final heartbreak in his first season, following a shootout loss to City, but they were triumphant on spot-kicks against Chelsea two years ago.

Nine wins and four defeats isn’t too shabby!

 

8. Did You Know?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 14, 2022: Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas celebrates after scoring the decisive goal in the penalty shoot-out during the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool may have thumped Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield recently, but it’s fair to say the two teams have been an even match in recent fixtures.

Incredibly, the previous seven meetings all finished as draws inside 90 minutes, but the Reds prevailed in both domestic finals on penalties in 2022.

It is almost three years since Chelsea tasted victory over Liverpool in any game, back when football was behind closed doors in 2020/21.

Mason Mount’s goal proved to be the difference inside an eery Anfield, but are we even counting that?

 

9. Chris Kavanagh takes charge

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 10, 2022: Liverpool's Manager Jurgen Klopp is spoken to by referee Chris Kavanagh during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Chris Kavanagh has been handed the honour of refereeing Sunday’s final, with plenty of pressure on him to deliver a competent performance.

The 38-year-old has already refereed four Liverpool matches this season, all in the Premier League, starting with the 3-1 win at home to West Ham back in September.

The 3-0 victory over Forest at Anfield followed, then the 1-1 draw at City, finishing off with the clash at home to Arsenal that ended with the same scoreline.

John Brooks is in charge of VAR, while Mark Scholes and James Mainwaring are Kavanagh’s assistants, and Tim Robinson is the fourth official.

 

10. Follow the League Cup final with TIA

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: The Bobby Moore statue and Wembley arch seen before the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 11-10 on penalties after a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The League Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea is live on Sky Sports Main Event, with coverage getting underway at 2pm (UK). Kickoff is at 3pm.

If you are unable to watch, or would prefer to keep TIA company instead, Harry McMullen is in charge of our live blog from 2.15pm, providing plenty of entertainment and updates.

Come on you Reds – do it for Jurgen!