If we can ignore everything else that’s happening in the world right now, we have a pretty juicy match-up on tap for Sunday’s League Cup final, in the latest showdown between Blues and Reds.
This is a rematch of the 2005 League Cup final, which we won, 3-2 in extra time (thanks, Stevie G!), but also of the countless massive games between the two teams in the last two decades, on stages both domestic and European — including the UEFA Super Cup a couple years ago, which Liverpool won on penalties.
This will be our 26th match at the new Wembley, as many as Manchester United and Liverpool combined. It’s our second home, so let’s play like it.
Date / Time: Sunday, February 27, 2022, 16.30 GMT; 11:30am EST; 10pm IST
Venue: Wembley, London, England
Referee: Stuart Attwell (on pitch); Darren England (VAR) — biggest game of Attwell’s career
Forecast: Sunny but breezy and cool
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); MTV (India); SupertSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); ESPN+ (USA); JioTV, Voot (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: We have almost everyone available and fit, except for Ben Chilwell, who’s out for the rest of the season, and maybe Reece James, who’s just recently returned to full training after two months out. That leaves Thomas Tuchel with plenty of options, but also plenty of selection headaches.
The most notable of those is regarding Romelu Lukaku. Our record signing was dropped midweek after ten straight starts, but is reportedly working hard to win back his place. Kai Havertz (central), Christian Pulisic (left), and Hakim Ziyech (right) played very well together however and seem to be the most in-form attacking trio at the moment.
The other big decision is at goalkeeper, where Édouard Mendy seems set to replace normal “cup goalkeeper” Kepa Arrizabalaga, just as in the Club World Cup final. Kepa has been absolutely heroic in our run to this final, saving penalties in both the third and fourth round shootouts, but Tuchel, who has yet to lose as Chelsea boss to Jürgen Klopp (1 win, 2 draws), has made it clear that he won’t be choosing his starters based on sentiment.
Liverpool team news: Liverpool are in fantastic form — 9 wins in a row in all competitions and unbeaten in 2022 — and have climbed right back into the title race with the 6-0 win against Leeds United on Wednesday, which puts them just three points behind Manchester City. Like Chelsea, they are also still in the running for the FA Cup and the Champions League trophies this season as well.
And like Chelsea, Liverpool have a nearly clean bill of health, with only Roberto Firmino ruled out. Diogo Jota is questionable, but €44m (plus add-ons) January arrival Luis Díaz has settled in quite quickly and has already opened his goalscoring account for the club. Unlike Chelsea however, Klopp will be sticking with his cup goalkeeper, Caoimhín Kelleher.
Liverpool got this far by easily beating Norwich City and Preston North End, squeaking by Leicester City on penalties, and then dispatching Arsenal in the semifinals. They have made more League Cup finals than any other club, 12, and should they win, they’d move back ahead of Manchester City with the most such trophies as well with 9. (We have 5 at the moment, in 8 finals appearances.)
Previously: The 2005 League Cup win was the first trophy of the Roman Era. Were that to end for whatever reason, it would be almost poetic for the final trophy to be yet another League Cup triumph against Liverpool. Either way, let’s hope for a win!