Like their opposition at Wembley this afternoon, Chelsea have reached two cup finals this season, but they blew a big opportunity in midweek to finish fourth in the Premier League.
After a goalless draw against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in March the gap in the table between themselves and their London rivals was five points. But despite Tottenham taking only a point from three consecutive league games last month, a considerable gap of four points remained following Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat to Newcastle while Spurs won consecutive league games for the first time since January. With two games remaining it’s going to be a tall order for Chelsea to finish in the top five this season.
Liverpool have already won silverware this season and will be keen to complete an FA Cup and League Cup double. Chelsea have the Champions League Final to look forward to later this month, but today’s FA Cup Final is their only remaining chance to celebrate domestic success in a season during which they changed their manager when they were three points outside the top four after 27 games.
Their 5-2 FA Cup quarter final win over Leicester City took interim manager Roberto Di Matteo’s record to four wins in all competitions in his first four games. The Blues scored another five goals in the semi-final against Spurs at Wembley last month, even if the second goal didn’t ever appear to cross the line. Didier Drogba opened the scoring that day after Liverpool’s Andy Carroll had netted the winner in dramatic fashion a day earlier as Everton’s dream of an appearance in the final was shattered.
Liverpool have struggled for form at home all season, and one point from their last four games at Anfield has included back-to-back 1-0 defeats. Hardly the form to take into a cup final, although a Luis Suarez hat-trick against Norwich last weekend marked their eighth league win on the road.
My prediction: A close encounter that Chelsea are likely to edge and make up for a league campaign where they’ve always been there or thereabouts, even under Andre Villas-Boas, but have always tended to miss out when it matters most.