FA Cup Final preview @ 1715 BST @ Wembley

Our third trip to Wembley this season pits us against Chelsea in the 131st FA Cup final. This will be our 14th final in the world’s oldest domestic cup competition while Chelsea will be appearing in their 11th final. Interestingly, this is Chelsea’s fourth FA Cup final in seven seasons.

Chelski LFC is certainly becoming a modern rivalry. This will be the 31st time LFC have played CFC in 8 seasons, almost twice as many games as we would normally expect. The rivalry is given the significant starting point, in that Abramovich came to watch CFC play LFC in the last game of the 2003 season. With CFC beating LFC, Roman decided that buying into champions league football was the better investment, and bought CFC instead of LFC.

So what’s at stake aside from the glory of lifting a major trophy? The winners of the competition will earn £1.8m in prize money, while the runners up will receive £900k. So far both clubs have earned around £1.597m in prize money alone by reaching the final. Also awarded to the winners is a place in next season’s Europa League which Liverpool have already achieved from lifting the League Cup while Chelsea could yet qualify for next season’s Champions League from either winning the competition outright by beating Bayern Munich in the final or by finishing in 4th place in the Premier League.

(The FA Cup winners enter the Europa League at the Group Stage, while the League Cup winners enter at the 3rd qualifying round so if Liverpool lift the FA Cup they will enter the EL at the Group Stage as the FA Cup takes precedence over the League Cup)

I think Dominic was looking for good omens, and the best I could come up with on the spur of the moment was that the lower ranked teams had beaten the higher ranked teams in the semis, which would mean LFC should win the final. A better omen might be that although this will be the first meeting between the two sides in the final, Liverpool have knocked Chelsea out at the semi-final stage on two occasions and went on to lift the trophy both times. Obviously, if we beat them, then we will be lifting the trophy again. Another omen is that Kenny Dalglish has a phenomenal record in the FA Cup as a manager. This is his 5th final in 7 full seasons as a manager! 3 finals (and a semi) with LFC first time, plus this final during the second coming and another final with NUFC.

Road to Wembley

Round Three – Liverpool 5 – 1 Oldham Athletic
Round Four – Liverpool 2 – 1 Manchester Utd
Round Five – Liverpool 6 – 1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Quarter-finals – Liverpool 2 – 1 Stoke City
Semi-final first leg – Liverpool 2 – 1 Everton

Round Three – Chelsea 4 – 0 Portsmouth
Round Four – Q.P.R. 0 – 1 Chelsea
Round Five – Chelsea 1 – 1 Birmingham
Round Five replay – Birmingham 0 – 2 Chelsea
Quarter-finals – Chelsea 5 – 2 Leicester City
Semi-final – Chelsea 5 – 1 Tottenham
FA Cup History
Liverpool have lifted the FA Cup on seven occasions. Only three sides have lifted the FA Cup on more occasions than Liverpool: Man Utd with 11 victories, Arsenal with ten and Spurs with eight. The Reds have also been runners up on six occasions. Chelsea have lifted the FA Cup on six occasions and have been losing finalists four times. More recently, Chelsea have won three of the last five FA Cups, defeating Manchester Utd 1-0 (2007), Everton 2-1 (2009) and Portsmouth 1-0 (2010).

Goalkeepers: Reina, Doni
Defenders: Johnson, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Coates, Enrique, Aurelio
Midfielders: Gerrard (c), Henderson, Maxi, Downing, Shelvey, Spearing
Strikers: Carroll, Suárez, Bellamy, Kuyt

So what team will Kenny put out? I think we need to go with a similar line up as we had against Norwich. Stevie G and Luis up front, but with Bellars to give pace, guile and intelligence to cause Chelsea’s back line the required problems that will get us goals. We can always bring Andy on later…he may actually come in very handy if we’re hanging onto a lead (aerial ability in attack and defence)

CFC will probably start with Drogba, rather than Torres. Drogba is our bogey man and is a big game player. And considering Drogba didn’t start against NUFC. The thought of him against Carragher fills me with dread. So I hope Agger and Skrtel will be paired at the back, but I know several of us have uneasy feelings that Kenny will pick Carragher for one last hurrah…

Where ever you watch the game (and I hope you do) YNWA

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