Wembley will come alight on Saturday, May 5, 2012, when Chelsea and Liverpool clash in the final of the FA Cup, the oldest association football tournament of the world.
Chelsea have dominated this tournament in recent years, having won it thrice in the last five years, and having lost just one of their last 33 games in the competition. Having already entered the Champions League final, due to be played against Bayern, later this month, Chelsea are in line for a double. Meanwhile Liverpool who have already won the Carling Cup, beating Cardiff, earlier in the season, will be eyeing the possibility of a second crown.
Chelsea hold a 5-4 advantage over the Merseysiders, in nine past meetings, in the FA Cup. That said, Liverpool will revel in the fact that they have beaten the Stamford Bridge side, in the last four meetings between the teams. The presence of ex-Liverpool striker Torres will make Saturday’s clash all the more intriguing, especially with the Spaniard recovering the kind of form that had Chelsea bid 50 million pounds for the player.
Chelsea’s 2-0 loss to Newcastle on Wednesday was not the ideal preparation for the FA Cup clash; that loss also meant that Chelsea would not finish fourth in the EPL and qualify automatically for next year’s Champions League. That European qualification can now only be wrought with a win over Bayern, in the final.
The FA Cup final presents stop-gap manager Di Matteo with an opportunity to make his job permanent. Towards this end, Di Matteo would be looking to Drogba to take the attack to Liverpool at his favourite venue of Wembley which has witnessed seven goals by the Ivorian, three of those coming in FA Cup finals. Torres’ hat-trick against QPR last week would have rung alarm bells at Anfield; another key player would be Ashley Cole who has been in FA cup winning finals on six previous occasions. While Cahill and Lutz continue on the injured list, Ivanovic is set to return from suspension.
Languishing in eighth place in the Premier League, Liverpool’s European dreams for the next season have all but evaporated. Their fourth home (0-1) loss of the season to Fulham did not help redeem what has been their worst ever EPL season. Against Chelsea, on Saturday, Suarez and Gerrard will be key to the Merseysiders’ fortunes, while Carroll whose goal against Everton in the semi-finals propelled them to the title clash, could also seek to redeem his reputation in the eyes of Liverpool fans.
Going by relative form, Chelsea must start as favourites but could come undone if they leave room for any complacency, in what promises to be a tightly fought game.
Chelsea’s probable starting eleven: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Mikel,. Meireles, Ramires, Lampard, Mata, Drogba.
Liverpool’s probable starting eleven: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Spearing, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing, Carroll, Suarez.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.