Chelsea conceded a 0-2 home loss to Newcastle on Wednesday night.
Not very good preparation for the FA Cup final on Saturday.
The Wembley clash has a significant meaning for both teams: Liverpool can only begin to defend their season if they end it with a cup double, while Chelsea face the prospect of having no European football at all at Stamford Bridge next season if they fail to win either the FA Cup or the Champions League.
But there’s more than that at stake.
Liverpool and Chelsea have developed a serious rivalry over recent years, with the Reds seeming to hold the upper hand in cup clashes and the Blues in the league. Four consecutive wins over Chelsea is no mean feat—and a big record to aspire to extend.
With all this in mind, let’s look ahead at the clash of the titans and consider five key battles that will be taking place on the Wembley pitch this Saturday.
Should we start with a heavy hitter?
Which is precisely what Fernando Torres took to his neck when Daniel Agger gave him a fierce greeting during Torres’ debut for Chelsea, which came in a 0-1 loss to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge just over a year ago.
But times have changed. (Or they seem to have anyway.)
Torres cuts an entirely different figure these days than the aimless wanderer of months gone by. His wonderful hat trick against QPR last weekend was a testament to his new-found confidence.
So Daniel Agger will have his work cut out to reduce Torres once again to the shadow of his former self.
And if Torres doesn’t do the business, Agger will have to come up against an entirely different proposition altogether: the brutal physicality of Didier Drogba. That’ll be pretty fun too.
It’s difficult to pin down an exact player who will be tasked with tracking the free-roaming spirit that is Ramires, so defensive midfielder Jay Spearing will have to do for now.
And the ubiquity of Ramires, whose stamina and energy seem limitless, and who is hitting form at the perfect time, is exactly why Spearing has it all to do to keep the Brazilian midfielder quiet.
Never mind the attacking prowess Ramires has come to display in recent weeks (but how classy was that chipped finish against Barcelona?)—his all-ground contribution to this Chelsea side cannot be understated.
His ability to pop up with a vital goal is merely the icing on the cake.
Ramires’ dovetailing with Juan Mata in the attacking midfield area will have to be a key focus in Kenny Dalglish’s tactical plans.
Otherwise, Liverpool could be in for a long night.
Steven Gerrard against Frank Lampard.
How many more times will we be able to hear that?
They have been involved in many high-profile clashes throughout their careers, but with silverware at stake, it might not get any better than this weekend’s FA Cup final.
Wembley will provide the stage for two of England’s most accomplished midfielders in history to showcase their abilities.
Will it be the power and pace of Gerrard that win the day, or the guile and finesse of Lampard?
Let’s see whether it’s the No. 8 in red or in blue to get his hands on the FA Cup.
Now here’s a battle between two good-old-fashioned English footballers.
Regardless of whether Andy Carroll starts for Liverpool, chances are that he will appear at some stage, and when he does, he will be up against a formidable opponent.
Carroll was up front on his own against Fulham, dominating almost all his aerial battles and generally making a great nuisance of himself. He will almost certainly occupy the full attentions of Chelsea’s captain, who packs a mean punch and is quite capable in the air himself.
And it won’t just be in the Chelsea penalty box that this duel will take place. Terry is famous for his productivity in attacking set pieces, and Carroll has also become a mainstay of the Liverpool defence when it comes to defending them.
May the best header win.
Roberto Di Matteo is currently short of options in the center of his defence, with Gary Cahill and David Luiz both out injured.
But Branislav Ivanovic still presents a very credible defensive alternative for Chelsea.
While his appearances are now mostly confined to the right flank, he has had plenty of experience across the back four and also provides an attacking threat on set pieces.
His opponent, Luis Suarez, however, will be riding on a high—his glamorous hat trick against Norwich on Saturday was a clear example of the heady heights he is capable of hitting.
Liverpool will be hoping he carries his form into the final and brings back the FA Cup as a result.
What are the battles you’re looking forward to on Saturday? Let us know in the comments below.
If you liked this article, you might also be interested in 6 Reds Who Need to Leave Anfield This Summer. For more Liverpool match reactions and opinions, check out and subscribe to my blog, The Red Armchair, where I also host live match-day chats during select Liverpool games.