Chelsea and Liverpool come head-to-head in the final of this season’s FA Cup. It will be, more or less, a replay of the Carabao Cup final in which both of these sides played out an interesting battle. For yet another time, it will be the German friends turning into foes, when Tuchel’s Chelsea and Klopp’s Liverpool come h2h on Saturday.
Meanwhile, this is the second time this season, that these two sides will face each other at Wembley. But this time around Thomas Tuchel would want his side to take more than just a consolation prize- as we look at the key battles that could pan out through the entirety of the match and you surely would not be able to take your eyes off of it!
Kai Havertz (Chelsea) vs Trent Alexander Arnold (Liverpool)
Havertz, 22, has been amazing this season despite his slow start. It seems like he has taken the confidence he gained, after scoring the winning goal, in the final of the Champions League last season into this season. If you are a Blues fan, it is hard to rule out the German from the thick of the matter. Kai Havertz has scored 13 goals and has assisted another 6 in 43 games across all competitions, this season for Chelsea. He has gained much popularity in the regions around the Bridge, and rightly so!
Meanwhile, he will be coming up face-to-face against the young full-back phenom of the Reds, Trent Alexander Arnold. Arguably one of the best right-backs in the world, if not the best, the English offensive full-back has just broken all grounds of assisting this season. His range of passing is revered not only in England but across Europe. Be it in the Champions League, this season, or in England; the 23-year-old has just been amazing for Klopp and his men. Trent currently sits with 19 assists and 2 goals in 44 games that he has played for the Reds across all competitions this season. And he will be looked upon with a keen eye, by his manager for another final.
Not to mention the last time Havertz and Tent faced each other in the final of the League Cup, it broke the internet with one of “the Coldest pics” of Football- when a tackle from the Liverpool man sparked a heaty conversation between the two!
Mason Mount (Chelsea) vs Thiago Alcântara (Liverpool)
The 23-year-old is flying under Tuchel this season with the Cobham graduate having 29 goal involvements in all competitions this season. In the FA Cup alone, Mount has 3 assists and a goal in just 4 games- averaging a goal contribution per game. It is, indeed, without a doubt that his overall gameplay has improved under Tuchel and his importance in the Chelsea frontline is evident with the team creating fewer chances when he isn’t on the pitch. Another consistent performance on the same lines is surely due from the Englishman, come Saturday, as Chelsea looks to settle the scores with the Reds.
On the other hand, Liverpool have a master in disguise of Thiago Alcantara- with the Spanish midfielder mesmerizing the world football with his little twisty feet and trickeries. It has become more of a fact now that whenever Thiago is in the playing XI, Liverpool are to shine and demolish their opponents. The Spanish midfielders’ overall Passing accuracy by the game has been outrageous. Whenever the 31-year-old has started, he has averaged more than 82% passing accuracy on the pitch amongst the 22 on-field players. He has 4 assists and 2 goals to show for his goal contributions as well, alongside his spreading passes.
To watch Mount and Thiago play together, against each other, will be a treat to the eyes. Master versus apprentice, offensive-minded/young midfielder versus a calm-cool headed experienced player of the sport. What a treat!
Reece James (Chelsea) vs Luis Diaz (Liverpool)
Another superb English right-back Reece James, 22, is one of Chelsea’s standout player this season. Tuchel’s tactics have been a subject of change lately, leading to the alteration in the playing positions of a few of the players. And Reece James has been one of them to get an advanced role! According to the defensive requirements, Chelsea have been seen switching between the normal 4 or 3 at the back. The latter results in James moving to the Right mid sort of position, and it is safe to say that he has been amazing in operating down that channel for the Blues’. James has 8 assists and 6 goals in 36 games overall this season, and is looking solid- be it in the attack or defence.
However, it looks as if the might of Reece James would be tested when he will be assigned the task of, constantly keeping up with the Columbian baller- Luis Diaz. The Reds’ January signing is proving out to be a tactical and/or statistical difference for them, while it has already turned out to be the best signing in the world this season. Diaz has taken no time to settle in such a new environment, with the new teammates and is already a backroom star. The 25-year-old Columbian’s highlight reel in the Red colour jersey, so far, has been beyond phenomenal. He has already bagged 4 goals and 3 assists in the 12 League games so far. Meanwhile, Diaz has 3 goals and 3 assists in the last 7 games for Klopp’s Liverpool side, chasing after the quadruple.
Timo Werner (Chelsea) vs Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)
Timo Werner is another German who has given glimpses of his Leipzig days this season, and the west Londoner club supporters are hopeful that the next season will be his savour. The 26-year-old forward has been the go-to man for Thomas Tuchel for the most part of the season in the absence of Romelu Lukaku. And Turbo Timo has repaid his manager’s show of faith in him with his contribution in games- scoring 11 goals and 6 assists in 37 games overall this season.
Meanwhile, he will be left hanging upfront, all alone against a force to be reckoned with. Yes! It is, indeed, the Dutch wall- Virgil Van Dijk. I mean, did he even rupture his right anterior cruciate ligament at Everton last season?! To be honest, it does not seem to be the case. So far Van Dijk, alongside the company of Konate and Matip, has kept a total of 31 clean sheets across all competitions whenever he has played a game donning the Liverpool colours.
Not just that, he has been proving to be a nuisance whenever Liverpool are on set pieces- scoring a total of 3 goals so far this season.
To come up face-to-face against someone like Van Dijk takes a lot of inner strength to go by. It is not just a matter of 90 mins, Werner will have to face the giant in the Liverpool defence every time he will be in the attacking position for his side- not to mention a few mins of injury time or even extra time. One of the quick-paced strikers in Europe up against, arguably, one of the best defenders in the world right now. It, surely, is meant to spice up.