Europa Conference League final previewMay 24 | 4 min read
Talking points ahead of the FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool beat the Blues in the Carabao Cup final earlier in the season.
Liverpool face Chelsea at Wembley for the second time this season in the FA Cup final after Jurgen Klopp’s side beat their London rivals in the Carabao Cup in February.
Here the PA news agency looks at some of the issues surrounding the game.
Will Liverpool be in the dark without their ‘lighthouse’?
A hamstring injury to midfielder Fabinho – whom the coaching staff refer to as the team’s lighthouse for his protection role – means he will not be fit before the Champions League final at the end of the month. That means captain Jordan Henderson, who has had more of an attacking role this season, will be asked to drop deeper. It is not an unfamiliar job to the England international but he is not as effective as Fabinho in screening the back four.
The £97.5million summer signing continues to confuse and frustrate in equal measure as manager Thomas Tuchel still does not appear to have faith in the club’s record signing. He may have scored three times in back-to-back matches, having not started the previous three, but Tuchel has not trusted him for the big games. He did pose a threat to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final as a 70th-minute substitute but may have to settle for a role off the bench again.
Does Klopp have some forward thinking of his own to do?
There never used to be any guessing over who Liverpool’s front three would be for big games but the options open to manager Jurgen Klopp mean two players will be disappointed on Saturday. On current form Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz, who has made such an impact since his arrival in January, have to start which means the last place will surely go to Mohamed Salah despite scoring just two goals (both in the same game) in his last 13 appearances. That is the front three which started the League Cup final and the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City. Diogo Jota (four goals in 13 matches) and Roberto Firmino (four in eight before injury) appear destined for the bench.
Burden of inconsistency
Chelsea's form since April
Chelsea’s form since April not only put their seemingly comfortable top-four spot under some pressure, but also cost them in the Champions League. Tuchel’s side have won five of 11 matches, having lost to Brentford and Everton and drawn at home to Wolves despite being 2-0 up with 11 minutes to play. Last season they lifted the Champions League, having lost three of their last four matches – including the FA Cup final, but Chelsea are a much less confident side 12 months on and having criticised their inability to keep clean sheets, Tuchel has some work to do against a team which has scored in all-but four of their 59 matches this season.