For as soon as, we have now an FA Cup last between two of the most effective groups within the nation. Saturday’s sport at Wembley is the primary time since 2007 wherein two of the Premier League prime three go head-to-head, and higher nonetheless Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp have developed an interesting rivalry over the past 18 months.
Klopp is but to beat Tuchel, discounting a penalty shootout victory in a 0-0 draw within the EFL Cup last earlier this 12 months. There have been three consecutive attracts and a 1-0 win for Chelsea of their first assembly in March 2021. Nobody else has that form of file in opposition to Liverpool.
But Chelsea below Tuchel haven’t confronted Liverpool at fairly such a low ebb earlier than. Victory over Leeds United on Wednesday was their first in 4 matches, whereas Liverpool proceed to look relentless; it takes a really particular efficiency to even draw in opposition to this group, and Klopp’s aspect will doubtless relish the break from the strain of their title problem.
Here’s a take a look at the 4 key battles that will outline the sport:
Werner’s tempo v Van Dijk-led excessive line
Tuchel focuses on velocity within the attacking transitions in opposition to Liverpool, instructing his gamers to sit down just a little deeper than typical so as to draw Liverpool out. He can all the time be seen frantically gesticulating on the sidelines for higher verticality; for a extra direct floor go that cuts by way of the strains and units Chelsea behind Klopp’s excessive line.
There is little doubt this will be a significant function, notably on the massive Wembley pitch. Surprisingly, Kai Havertz began alone up entrance in a 3-4-2-1 formation within the EFL Cup last, however certainly with Timo Werner in good type he will get the nod on Saturday. His tempo and clever motion on the shoulder of the final defender might trigger issues for Virgil van Dijk and the remainder of his defence.
That is particularly true ought to Werner lean out to the left. With Mason Mount shifting throughout from the ten place, these two could be capable of mix on the counter-attack to get behind the free-roaming Trent Alexander-Arnold. Romelu Lukaku’s brace in opposition to Wolves, with the second scored from an attacking transition, makes him an intriguing possibility from the bench.
James’ runs will goal timid Robertson
The different doubtlessly fruitful path to purpose for Chelsea is by way of Reece James. He hasn’t been in the most effective type just lately however given how tight the sport will be, how cautious every supervisor is of the opposite, and the way crowded the midfield battle (extra on that under) Chelsea must give attention to their overlapping wing-backs.
Andrew Robertson was ‘rested’ for the 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Tuesday, however extra precisely he was dropped for poor type – which, to be truthful, might be the results of tiredness. The Liverpool left-back is just not having the simplest time and will be susceptible to James charging instantly at him, particularly with Havertz additionally dipping into the appropriate half-space during times of sustained Chelsea stress.
Konstantinos Tsimikas performed at Villa Park and was fairly erratic, freely giving quite a few possibilities to the hosts regardless of additionally being productive on the different finish. Whichever left-back Klopp picks, Tuchel will be sensible to focus on them.
Chelsea again three makes Thiago important
Fabinho’s damage considerably weakens Liverpool’s potential to forestall counter-attacks, and that might show to have the most important impression on this sport. N’Golo Kante and Matteo Kovacic will look to hold the ball off the again of the Liverpool midfield, making a match filled with harmful attacking transitions for Chelsea.
The midfield battle might be definitive for Liverpool, mainly as a result of they have an inclination to wrestle in opposition to a again three/5, as we noticed within the latest 1-1 draw with Tottenham. Klopp’s huge forwards prefer to function between full-back and centre-back, a house shut down by a again 5, whereas in Tuchel’s system Chelsea’s wing-backs will additionally be free to push as much as meet Liverpool’s full-backs.
Thiago Alcantara is about to play in opposition to Chelsea for the primary time. His unimaginable approach and capability to interrupt the strains with a fast ahead go will be very helpful in opposition to Tuchel’s two-man midfield, particularly if issues are clogged up for Liverpool within the last third. His head-to-head with Kante will be fascinating to look at.
Mane stress might pressure Azpilicueta mistake
Chelsea have conceded 17 targets of their final ten matches in all competitions and most of those have been the results of avoidable errors; they’ve develop into sloppy on the again, shedding focus as their season peters out. Of these 17, 4 have been unforced particular person errors in defence, 4 have been opposition counter-attacks, and 4 have been gifting possession in their very own third.
Liverpool are the most effective urgent group on the planet. They will swarm the Chelsea defenders after shedding the ball in addition to when Chelsea take their brief purpose kicks. Judging by latest type that is when Tuchel’s group will be most susceptible.
Sadio Mane, beginning because the quantity 9, will be notably sharp at making use of stress to defenders, and viewers ought to keep watch over how he approaches Cesar Azpilicueta. Chelsea’s proper centre-back has been notably error-prone of late.
It is that this last level – Chelsea’s hesitant type – that offers Liverpool the sting regardless of the tactical benefits that seem to be in Chelsea’s favour.