Liverpool v Chelsea – The Carabao Cup Final Preview

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Liverpool v Chelsea – The Carabao Cup Final Preview

For this Wembley encounter, two titans of the English game collide in the first tournament final of the 2023/24 campaign. Liverpool will be looking to make this game the start of an historic season of success, whereas Chelsea is merely looking for a bright spot within a frustrating period in their Premier League era. The contest is riddled with injuries for both sides, which makes for a more unpredictable contest. This one-off tie could conceivably swing in either direction, despite the reds recently overwhelming the west London giants in their 4-1 win at Anfield.

The Cheslea Availability

On the injury front, the blues will be without Lesley Ugochukwu, Wesley Fofana, Marc Cucurella, Lesley Ugochukwu, Trevoh Chalobah, Carney Chukwuemeka, Benoit Badiashile, Romeo Lavia, and their club captain, Reece James. Despite Robert Sanchez having returned to team training, he will likely have to make do with a place on the bench.

Photo: IMAGO

In terms of recent form, the blues recorded a tremendous 1-1 draw away to Manchester City, after a solid 1-3 away win against Crystal Palace. Both those league games came after a surprise 1-3 win (in their FA Cup replay), as Mauricio Pochettino’s men dispatched Aston Villa in the 5th round of that cup competition. After 25 games played in the Premier League, the huge spending Londoner’s sit in 10th position in the table, with just 35 points on the board.

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the away side, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The injury to Thiago Silva seems to have allowed a more productive line up to emerge, which will be built to withstand pressure and launch counter attacking patterns of play.

Đorđe Petrović, Malo Gusto, Axel Disasi, Levi Colwill, Ben Chilwell, Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez, Conor Gallagher, Raheem Sterling, Cole Palmer, Nicolas Jackson

The Liverpool Availability

In terms of injures, the unavailability of Thiago Alcântara is still a reality, again, whereas Stefan Bajčetić is also still an ongoing absentee. Joël Matip has sustained a season ending ACL injury, one that may have seen him play his last game for the club. Trent Alexander Arnold, Alisson Becker, and Curtis Jones, are out for a few more weeks, whilst Diogo Jota is sidelined for a couple of months after a knee injury at the weekend. Mohamed Salah and Darwin Núñez are expected to overcome recent complaints and start this crucial game, however, Dominik Szoboszlai is only likely to be fit enough for the bench.

Photo: IMAGO

Regarding recent form, Liverpool is headed to the capital with some good winning momentum. This past midweek saw Luton fall to a 4-1 thumping at Anfield, after Jürgen Klopp’s men recorded a 1-4 win at Brentford. Those two wins came after a 3-1 home win against Burnley, despite a plethora of injuries and a constantly changing starting lineup. The reds currently sit top of the English Premier League, after amassing 60 points from 26-games played.

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the European heavyweights, where the hybrid initiative will be sidelined for two orthodox and attacking fullbacks.

Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Bradley, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Harvey Elliott, Wataru Endo, Alexis Mac Allister, Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz

How Will This Contest Play Out

I believe the emotion that has engulfed the Liverpool fanbase (since the news of Jürgen Klopp’s impending departure), is matched by a burning desire within the reds squad. Chelsea is much improved of late; however, the power and intensity of the table toppers should prove too much of their adversaries. Conor Bradley enjoyed a brilliant performance against Chelsea a few weeks back and I fully expect him to offer continual energy and service from the right.

For the blues, Cole Palmer, and the eventual introduction of Christopher Nkunku, will be the key threats to Caoimhin Kelleher in the reds goal, as they will be hoping to avenge recent cup final losses to the reds.

Player to watch – Alexis Mac Allister

Score Prediction;

Liverpool 2 – 1 Chelsea

Steven Smith

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