Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool – prediction, team news, lineups

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Liverpool travels south to face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday, potentially only 90 minutes away from achieving a record-breaking ninth Carabao Cup title.

Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups
Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool – prediction, team news, lineups

The Reds defeated Arsenal in a two-legged semi-final to earn their place at Wembley, while Thomas Tuchel’s side eliminated Tottenham Hotspur from the final four.

Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool – prediction, team news, lineups

Match preview

A sixth EFL Cup title may not have the same ring to it as European or World Champions, but for Chelsea, a priceless piece of mid-season silverware might be the spark for a string of future success in the spring months.

With the Premier League crown slipping away from Thomas Tuchel’s side, a domestic and European treble remains a possibility, and a six-game winning streak across all competitions positions the Blues beautifully for a Wembley confrontation in February.

Chelsea’s defensive tenacity was on display in the semi-finals when they defeated former manager Antonio Conte and his Tottenham Hotspur side 3-0 over two legs, and they were forced to rely on a similar strong backline to beat Lille 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in midweek.

Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

In addition, Chelsea has only conceded two goals in their six-game winning streak, despite doubt over the futures of several of their defenders, all of whom have helped the Blues keep three consecutive EFL Cup clean sheets on their way to Wembley.

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The European champions’ eighth EFL Cup final is all the more astonishing given that they have only faced Premier League opposition in the competition this season, but their last appearance in the showpiece event came in defeat to Manchester City in 2019, and Liverpool are ruthless.

A six-game winning streak is nothing to sneeze at, but Jurgen Klopp’s powerful Liverpool had a different number six in mind when Marcelo Bielsa’s team paid a visit to the Anfield fortress, capitulating on the Merseyside turf.

Liverpool moved within touching distance of Premier League leaders Manchester City thanks to Mohamed Salah’s brace, Sadio Mane’s treble, Joel Matip’s mazy run and finish, and Virgil van Dijk’s bullet header, and chances of an unprecedented quadruple remain alive.

When the Reds were held to a goalless draw by Arsenal’s 10-man defense in the first leg of their semi-final, morale was low, but Diogo Jota spurred his team to victory at the Emirates, and Liverpool will now play in their record-extending 13th EFL Cup final.

Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

With eight EFL Cup victories each, Manchester City and Liverpool are at the top of the table, although it has been a decade since Liverpool last won the domestic title, overcoming Cardiff City on penalties in the 2011-12 final.

Klopp’s crop has been plagued by early exits since then – although the German manager isn’t known for his unwavering devotion to the competition – but having won each of their last nine competitions, Liverpool will not turn down a record-breaking title.

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Chelsea and Liverpool have split the spoils in both Premier League matches this season, and the two teams have played once previously in the EFL Cup final, where Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman helped Chelsea win 3-2 after extra time in the 2004-05 edition.

Chelsea EFL Cup form:

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Chelsea form (all competitions):

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Liverpool EFL Cup form:

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Liverpool form (all competitions):

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Team News

Mason Mount was well enough to start against Lille, giving Chelsea a big fitness boost, especially after Hakim Ziyech was pulled off with an Achilles injury and is regarded doubtful.

Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Mateo Kovacic was also pulled off with a muscle problem in the Champions League win, but Tuchel is hoping that both he and Ziyech, as well as Callum Hudson-Odoi, will be able to play in some way on Sunday.

Ben Chilwell might thus be the Blues’ lone absence in the final, with Tuchel suggesting that Reece James may be well enough to make the squad, but it would be surprising to see him play.

Tuchel will have to make significant decisions in all areas of the field, although Kepa Arrizabalaga will be anxious to start in goal, while Kai Havertz might lead the line ahead of Romelu Lukaku once more.

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Diogo Jota is fighting to be fit for the final after suffering an ankle injury in the Champions League against Inter Milan, while Roberto Firmino will be missing.

Apart from his two centre-forwards, Klopp has no further concerns, and with Jota likely to be relegated to the bench, Mane and Salah should once again join Luis Diaz in the final third.

Salah against former club Chelsea

Caoimhin Kelleher will be the last line of defense at Wembley, where Jordan Henderson is expected to return to an otherwise settled Liverpool XI, according to Klopp.

Possible Line Up

Chelsea’s possible starting lineup:

Kepa; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic; Havertz

Liverpool possible starting lineup:

Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz

Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool’s strong attackers are simply too good to dismiss, even without the presence of Jota or Firmino in the number nine position, with Salah in top form, Diaz making a great early impression, and Africa Cup of Nations champion Mane knowing what it takes to keep his nerve on the big stage.

Chelsea has beaten the odds previously, but even their stalwart defense will find it difficult to stop Klopp’s well-oiled machine, and we can only see the Reds winning the cup for the ninth time.

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