Liverpool and Chelsea face off for first English silverware of the season

February 23 – The EFL Cup will conclude Sunday as injury-hit Liverpool take on a Chelsea, who are showing signs of improvement, to decide which club picks up the first silverware of the season.

Pressure has been mounting on Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino- whose his side sit 10th in the Premier League table after headline-hugging investment. Thus Sunday’s fixture could present Chelsea’s only tangible shot at silverware and completely change Pochettino’s first season at the West London club.

Despites his success in England, the Argentine has yet to win trophy in English football.

Sunday’s final also provides Liverpool with the opportunity to claim the first prize ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s summer send off, as the Premier League leaders talk of chasing a quadruple.

The two sides came to blows in consecutive English cup finals in the 2021/22 season, as Liverpool beat Chelsea to win both trophies. The EFL and FA Cup finals were both decided by penalty shootouts without a regular playing time goal scored in either game.

The teams last clashed in January for a Premier League fixture at Anfield, which saw the hosts complete a comfortable 4-1 victory against a hapless Chelsea, courtesy of goals from Diogo Jota, Conor Bradley, Dominik Szoboszlai and Luis Diaz. Chelsea substitute Christopher Nkunku provided a tidy consolation goal that will give Klopp something to think about for the upcoming game, with the Frenchman expected to play a larger role now that he has fully recovered from injury.

Hampered by a string of concerning injuries, Liverpool will be forced to field a very different side to the one that put the Blues to the sword last month, with key players Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones all ruled out until late March.

That hasn’t slowed Liverpool who collected all three points as they hosted Luton Town on Wednesday night, despite having 10 first team players ruled out due to injury.

Speaking on his side’s selection crisis, Liverpool Assistant Manager Pep Ljinders said: “Alisson has a muscle injury, Trent has damaged his LCL. Jota has hurt his medial Ligament and Curtis has a high ankle sprain.”

“Curtis will be first back, around the international break [in March]. The rest will be after.”

Good news for Liverpool fans is that Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai could all be back in contention by the final on Sunday.

Ljinders continued: “For Mo [Salah], Dom [Szoboszlai] and Darwin [Nunez], it is important for us to use each minute to really look how the players are. Two training sessions to go, let’s see how they are and we can make a decision in the last minute.”

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1713322538labto1713322538ofdlr1713322538owedi1713322538sni@g1713322538niwe.1713322538yrrah1713322538