Potentially only 90 minutes away from winning their third trophy of the season, Chelsea make the short trip to Wembley, to renew hostilities with Liverpool in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.
Chelsea recorded two fairly comfortable wins against Spurs in the semi-final, while Jurgen Klopp’s side overcame Arsenal after winning 2-0 in the second leg.
Here are three Chelsea players we think you should keep an eye out for in a match which could see Chelsea win the Carabao Cup for the first time since 2014/15.
Antonio Rüdiger’s no-nonsense defending and ball-carrying ability
The German has undoubtedly been one of the best centre-backs in world football since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel. With a no-nonsense defending approach, along comes his ball-playing abilities and knack of bringing the ball out of defence and playing accurate passes over the oppositions defence. This will be huge against a Liverpool team that will look to counter-press and force Chelsea’s defence into making a mistake. Gaps will appear in Liverpool’s shape and this will need to be exploited on turnovers if Chelsea look to rely on scoring through counter attacks.
Defensively and offensively, he will play a huge part. Not only in attempts of keeping Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota quiet, the German could also play a huge part in attacking set pieces. Chelsea have only conceded two goals in their last six games despite uncertainty around the future of Chelsea’s defenders, including Antonio Rüdiger whose future is still undecided.
Marcos Alonso’s ultimate test in keeping Mohamed Salah quiet
This may come as a surprise but should Marcos Alonso start in the final, he will certainly need to be on his A game to nullify the threat and linkup play of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah.
The Spanish international struggled up against Salah in the league just last month where the Egyptian skipped past him to make it 0-2 before the Blues went on to draw the game 2-2. Alonso is a player renown for his attacking instincts; late runs into the box, overlaps providing the width. However, he will certainly need to be spot on in relation to defensive awareness and positioning as Salah could very well make it a torrid afternoon for the wing-back.
N’Golo Kante’s proven record in thriving on the big stage.
After a spectacular individual display against Lille midweek, it would come as a shock to Chelsea fans if the French World Cup winning midfielder is not named in the starting 11. At the age of 31, Kanté has still shown to be capable of running the midfield in the big matches where the big players are relied upon.
His defensive instincts in winning the ball back and progressing player further up the pitch was evident in assisting Pulisic’s goal against Lille midweek, as he progressed with the ball high up the pitch. His work rate, determination and awareness will be huge against a Liverpool midfield which is renown for counter-pressing and getting stuck into tackles at the earliest opportunity.
It will be a fascinating midfield battle with Jorginho and Kante/Kovacic coming up against the likes of Thiago, Fabinho and Keita but one that Chelsea’s midfield will certainly fancy their chances in winning.
Written by Vikram Jajuha (@CFCVik)
Edited by Matt North (@MattNorth_)