Liverpool have been on a roll in 2022, going on an unbeaten streak across competitions in Europe, with the last of their defeats coming in December last year at Leicester City. The impressive streak of 32 games this year includes five draws, a League Cup title and a run to the FA Cup and Champions League final. And with Liverpool now level on points in the Premier League table alongside Manchester City, the Reds are aiming for an elusive quadruple.
Next is the FA Cup silverware, where Jurgen Klopp’s men take on Chelsea at Wembley Stadium. And former Chelsea player Terry Phelan backed Liverpool as frontrunners ahead of the contest, calling them a “machine”. He thinks the one thing Klopp would be wary of is keeping the squad fit given the Premier League is still going on and they have the Champions League final at the end of this month.
“Obviously the physical struggles are what Liverpool are going through right now and they’ve also had some tough games – the games in Europe and the games at the weekend, especially against Tottenham Hotspur. So it’s not going to be the same. “Obviously. But Liverpool being Liverpool right now, they’re a bit of a machine. And they know how to win games, especially with the front pitch that they have from time to time, Diaz coming off the bench and joining them. But both teams will have time to rest,” he said in response to a question from the Hindustan Times at a select press conference ahead of the FA Cup final.
Chelsea, on the other hand, only have the FA Cup final to focus on. They had lost the League Cup title to Liverpool earlier this year in a penalty shootout. In April, despite a stunning 3-2 comeback at the Bernabeu, Chelsea lost on aggregate to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. And the third-placed side are also aiming for a top-four spot amid Arsenal and Spurs in the Premier League table.
“For Chelsea again, it’s a decisive season. It’s a great chance for them to win a cup. The problem with Liverpool is that they don’t want injuries now. The Premier League continues and then they have the Champions League final in a couple of weeks so they want everyone fit and yes they will have their eye on one game at a time and take the FA Cup seriously Look how they did a comeback against Villareal – that was vintage Liverpool and that’s what they can do to you So they’d shoot to get this one under their belt The FA Cup has already been disowned by managers but that’s to the silverware and now the managers want to win it, the fans want it,” he added.
However, the Scuttler, as he was known in his playing days, did not rule Chelsea out of the contest entirely and backed his former side to go the way of Tottenham Hotspur, who earlier last week held the Reds at Anfield, thus affecting their run in the Premier League.
“I wouldn’t say Chelsea had a bad season, they did fantastically in the Champions League before Real Madrid stopped them. I think they will come into the game with confidence. They will face a team that is on a roll now but they can be beaten and Spurs have shown that And even if Klopp didn’t approve of Spurs’ strategy it’s a game of football Chelsea have a good chance Thomas Tuchel made a great job since he’s been at the club,” said Phelan.
-Edouard Mendy out of shape?-
Mendy’s form is a bit of a concern, with the Chelsea keeper having conceded 17 goals since April. But Phelan brushed off the stats and calls for a substitute with Kepa Arrizabalaga for the final.
“You also have to look at the back four and football is a team game. So you can’t point fingers at Mendy. Has he made any terrible mistakes? I know Chelsea have this thing – who will be the keeper goals in Cup games and on penalties – and I just wish that was sorted I feel Mendy will play Yes they have a few skirmishes in the goalkeeping department But if you think back to those 17 goals , you’d really wonder if it was entirely him badly defended,” he said.
[Watch The Emirates FA Cup Final – Liverpool vs. Chelsea LIVE on SONY TEN 2 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on 14th May 2022, at 9:15 pm IST.]