Circumstances surrounding the club given everything that has been going on in the “real world” could make it for a reasonable distraction on the minds of Chelsea players on the pitch. However, the Blues would soon show that they were up to the task of a League Cup final against Liverpool that would also showcase how the 10-point gap in the Premier League is not really a good illustration of the difference between the two sides at Wembley today.
Although Liverpool have the Premier League points advantage and the 12-match unbeaten streak momentum, Chelsea had the edge during the first minutes of the game. We also got the best chance to get an opener six minutes into the fray with Christian Pulisic, whose shot was too weak to beat young shot-stopper Caoimhin Kelleher.
Liverpool started to find their footing with their midfield which despite the absence of Thiago Alcântara due to a warm-up injury, was still an unit to reckon. This would lead to Liverpool getting good chances in sequence from a Naby Keita long-range shot and Sadio Mané’s rebound in the penalty box, defended gloriously by Édouard Mendy.
The parries seemed to energise the Blues, who got back to their attacking groove quickly after thanks mostly to Kai Havertz. Another great Pulisic chance was once again denied by Kelleher, while César Azpilicueta’s attempt from distance skittered away. Mason Mount also tried a shot at glory from a Havertz pass, but missed it.
Getting close to tasting success seemingly had a lasting effect on Chelsea, who continued to press Liverpool for the opener after half-time. Mount once again had the best chance to find the opener as he got a shot in the area that cleared the keeper, but hit the post.
With Reece James back from injury to substitute a potentially injured César Azpilicueta, Chelsea’s attacking impetus grew further. Our job could have been made easier if Keita had gotten a red card from a baffling foul on Trevoh Chalobah. But somehow, he got away with it.
When it rains, it pours. Our “bad luck” with Keita not getting a red card would be followed by Mohamed Salah nearly getting an opening goal in a 1v1 against Mendy, with the Blues saved by a clearance off the line by Thiago Silva. Then Joel Matip would eventually get a header into the back of our net, but the score was disallowed by VAR due to offside.
As Chelsea also got a goal denied by offside, Liverpool went back into attack. Mendy continued to show his greatness in face of danger, helped by defence and midfield with clearances to get the ball away from our area.
Since neither side were able to find a goal during regular time, we headed into extra time. From the get-go Chelsea showed their teeth, to the point of scoring via substitute Romelu Lukaku. Unfortunately the striker was deemed offside in the play.
In the second half of extra time, a third goal was disallowed for Chelsea. Romelu Lukaku played assister to Kai Havertz, but the German was way ahead of Liverpool’s line of defenders.
And so we headed to penalties, with Kepa Arrizabalaga taking the goalposts in place of Édouard Mendy. The move did not pay off, as Kepa missed the eleventh (!!!) Chelsea attempt at the spot to make Liverpool League Cup winners.
- Thankfully Mateo Kovacic is fit to feature today, after some scary scenes when he left the pitch early against Lille last Tuesday. Thus the only changes from our last match are Trevoh Chalobah in place of Andreas Christensen in the backline, and Mason Mount for Hakim Ziyech upfront due to the latter’s injury.
- Subs are Reece James for César Azpilicueta, Romelu Lukaku for Mason Mount, Timo Werner for Christian Pulisic, Jorginho for Mateo Kovacic, and Kepa Arrizabalaga for Édouard Mendy.
- Édouard Mendy is just incredible. While Kepa showed he is more than serviceable during Mendy’s absence in the Africa Cup of Nations, our Champions League and Club World Cup-winner goalkeeper is simply amazing at what he does.
- If we are well suited in defence and arguably midfield, we really need to do a better job at burying the amazing chances we get when we have our best attacking players out on the pitch — especially if/when Romelu Lukaku is not part of this select group.
- Next up: Luton Town away in the FA Cup’s round of 16.