An unforgettable FA cup? Only time will tell.
Earlier in the week Dan Levene pitted Roberto Di Matteo and Kenny Dalglish against eachother ahead of the impending 131st FA cup. Today he's casting his eyes over the teams.
May 3rd, 2012
Earlier in the week Dan Levene pitted Roberto Di Matteo and Kenny Dalglish against eachother ahead of the impending 131st FA cup. Today he’s casting his eyes over the teams.
For the first time in the competition’s 140-year history, Chelsea face Liverpool in the FA Cup final this Saturday.
So will the 2012 FA Cup final be novel and exciting, or will it be forgettable fair? It’s all down to the teams…
Premier League best-of polls have been dominated by the names Pepe Reina and Petr Cech for several years. Both were believed to be dipping below their unbeatable best until the recent renaissance experienced by Cech under Roberto Di Matteo. An arguable man of the tie award against Barcelona, means Blues must be on top when it comes to the sticksmen.
Chelsea made Spanish headlines with their ‘anti football’ tactic of parking the bus. It was a rare, pragmatic use of a tactic which Liverpool have put in place for much of the season.
Reds are likely to line up with Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel – which on the face of it doesn’t look like much of a match for Chelsea’s forward line. But with midfield cover, they will hope to operate a shut-out. If it is 0-0 at half time, it will likely be because Chelsea are not getting their own way.
The Blues’ back four is debatable: with David Luiz and Gary Cahill hanging on a fitness test. The one man certain to start is John Terry: with him being banned from Chelsea’s other final in the Champions League.
Ashley Cole is also very nearly a dead cert, with the possibility of the newly competent Jose Bosingwa standing in if one of his right-sided colleagues cannot mate the cut.
Chelsea will need concentration in the face of Liverpool’s nippier runs.
Once this would have been about Steven Gerrard v Frank Lampard. While neither player is at the peak of their career now, there is still the opportunity for either to have a major impact in this game.
More interesting, perhaps, is the supporting cast. Liverpool are likely to mix youth with experience in the form of Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, and either Jonjo Shelvey or Jay Spearing.
Chelsea are expected to pack their midfield with a stronger combination including Ramires, John Mikel Obi and maybe Juan Mata.
A lot is resting on Mata’s ability to perform: if he plays to his capabilities, this can be his final.
Both sides share a problem up front. There is a love-him-hate-him, yet ultimately talented striker; battling against a hugely over-priced one who shows flashes of brilliance.
I wouldn’t expect Chelsea to start with Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, any more than I would expect Liverpool to start with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.
More likely is a Blues line-up of Drogba and either or both of Saloman Kalou and Daniel Sturridge. While Liverpool might be best advised to go for Suarez alongside Craig Bellamy.
Unlikely to be a goal-fest, this game will be dictated by whether one defence or the other has a lapse of concentration against what is likely to be a very flat opposing midfield. Long balls could end up being the order of the day, with the odd headed goal in three – or even the only goal – dictating whose name ends up on the cup.
Check out the rest of Dan Levene’s Footballscores.com Chelsea blog.