League Cup Final Preview: Chelsea and Liverpool Meet Again

Just like that, the first opportunity for domestic silverware is almost upon us. That’s right the Carabao League Cup Final will be played at Wembley on Sunday in a 3pm kick-off. Chelsea will take on Liverpool under the Wembley Arch with both clubs gunning for a much-needed trophy, for very different reasons.

A classic matchup that is sure to have all the hallmarks of a brilliant final. Not only that, it is a repeat of the 2022 final, one that Chelsea won on penalties breaking Liverpudlian hearts. The Red’s will be mindful of the outcome 2 years ago and they will be keen to claim revenge on a Chelsea side that haven’t been quite up to scratch as of late.

Starting with Liverpool, a high flying first half of the campaign sees them in a title race, and arguably favourites too. Also, still in the FA Cup and Europa League there is plenty of opportunity for them to pick up numerous pieces of silverware throughout the season. Their good form is perhaps not the main talking point of their season so far after manager, Jurgen Klopp, announced he would be leaving the club in the summer.

Klopp has been in charge of the Reds since 2015 and is regarded by many as one of the best managers in world football. With a Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup amongst other trophies, it’s hard to argue that his reign at Liverpool hasn’t been spectacular and he will be a huge loss. Liverpool will be hoping to win as many trophies as possible throughout the remaining season to honour their head coach before his departure.

Chelsea on the other hand have been far from their best. They need something to kick start their season and a League Cup trophy could be just what they require. After spending in excess of £1 billion over the last two seasons, but only a mid-table finish last year and the possibility of another one this season to show for it, nothing seems to be quite working for the London club.

Fans hoped it would be different this season with the introduction of new manager Mauricio Pochettino and a complete overhaul of new players after last season, however, they still find themselves middle of the pack. Can they turn their season around with a piece of silverware?

So who should we look out for? In the league, Liverpool’s superstar Mohamed Salah has been in fine form once again with 15 goals and 9 assists in 21 matches. He is certain to be a nightmare for the Chelsea defence. As will Darwin Núnez who is coming into his own in a Liverpool shirt. The Uruguayan has 9 goals and 7 assists this season in the Premier League and while many claim he is too wasteful in front of goal, there is no denying that he is on course for a great tally this year.

Chelsea on the other hand boast a number of players in fine form themselves including England man Connor Gallagher. With three goals in his last three games, the midfielder is on fire for the Blues and he will be hoping to carry this goalscoring form into Wembley, alongside other Chelsea youngster Cole Palmer.

Palmer has proved vital to Chelsea this season contributing a number of goals and assists to the side after his signing from Manchester City. He is another man who the Liverpool defence will have to contain on Sunday.

Defensively, Liverpool are also the stronger of the two sides having only conceded 24 in the league this season compared to Chelsea’s 41 goals against. Liverpool’s good defensive record is a huge contributor to their position in the table and their cup form, not to mention their array of attacking options.

Although Chelsea appear to have had a weaker back line, they haven’t been short on goals with 42, the 8th most in the league and the best record in the bottom half of the table. If they were to tighten up at the back, where could they have found themselves this season?  

Another convincing win for Liverpool on Saturday away at Brentford will have Klopp and his side’s confidence soaring high. With that said, a good Chelsea performance away at Manchester City saw last year’s treble winners made to work hard to snatch a point. The performance will instil belief in the Blues that they can cause an upset this weekend.

One thing that can’t be denied is that this fixture always promises to be a classic. This weekend will be no different as two giants of English football will clash for the first piece of silverware this season. So who will it be, Chelsea or Liverpool?

Will we see an upset in the League Cup in 2023?

With the World Cup in Qatar ending in the most dramatic of fashions, resulting in Messi and Argentina symbolically lifting the trophy, the attention of English, top flight football fans is drawn back to their clubs.

The first concern for some Premier League clubs will be the League Cup Round of 16 and with that some more knockout football. However, which teams are going to be edging closer to a League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday 26 February. Which sides will be crashing out this week?

Over the last 10 years the League Cup has been dominated by the famous ‘Top 6’ with Swansea City being the only team outside of the established group to win it in 2013. Since then, Manchester City have won it an incredible 6 times while Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United have lifted the trophy once each, with Liverpool being the current holders of the competition.

However, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs all leaving the cup in the Third Round as well as one of either Manchester City or Liverpool due to bow out as a result of their fixture, could there be a new name on the EFL Cup? And if so, who?

It will be interesting to see, following the break, which sides have continued their form from
November or who has declined.

Here are five teams who have a chance of lifting the trophy at the end of February.

Wembley Pitch FA Cup Final

2023 Carabao Cup Final

Sunday 26 February

Brighton and Hove Albion

The Seagulls are high flying in the Premier League this season and they have carried this form into the League Cup as well. Currently 7th in the league and above Chelsea, Roberto De Zerbi has so far seemed a fitting replacement for former Brighton manager Graham Potter.

After defeating league leaders Arsenal on their home turf in the last round, De Zerbi’s men must fancy themselves to go all the way especially considering they travel to The Valley to play struggling league one side, Charlton Athletic, in the round of 16. With that said, The Addicks will be up for it and Brighton must not be complacent although they are the better side on paper.

Newcastle United

St James’ Park is bouncing again since the takeover of the club and it’s not just the money that has people talking. ‘Eddie Howe’s Black and White Army’ as the natives call it, are playing eye-catching football once again and it’s paying off with their astonishing league form.

The Magpies are sat in 3rd place having only lost one game all season as opposed to last season where they found themselves in the relegation zone at this point. They may have only just scraped past Crystal Palace in the third round on penalties but it is no doubt that the Geordie faithful are believing again and have a keen eye on the League Cup as Eddie Howe’s first piece of domestic silverware.

Manchester United

There always seems to be some sort of controversy clouding over Old Trafford what with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the possibility of a much awaited takeover. However, as club football returns, the attention of the Red Devils turns to the events on the pitch as they are back in action on Wednesday night.

As one of the biggest clubs in Europe, they will be gunning for yet another League Cup to add to their collection. Currently sat in 5th, the Reds play host to Burnley and will be hoping for another victory against the Championship side. Nevertheless, Burnley should not be underestimated. They
sit 6 points clear at the top of the Championship in very good form and could even be underdog contenders for the cup itself.

Manchester United Champions Club

Leicester City

After a poor start to the season, and positioned rock bottom for much of it, Leicester seem to have found their form again. An unusually poor season for Leicester still only sees them in 13th, however, 4 wins in the last 6 league games may have saved manager Brendan Rodgers’ job. As Leicester hit form, they have to be considered as challengers for the League Cup. Winners of the FA Cup in 2021 and famously winning the Premier League in the 2015/16 season, they know how to cause an upset and will be looking to make another addition to the trophy cabinet. Similarly to Brighton, they travel to another struggling League

One side in the round of 16, Milton Keynes Dons. The Foxes will be looking for a comfortable win in order to advance to the quarter finals. Now for the big one, the game that stands out in this round of fixtures.

Manchester City vs Liverpool

So will Liverpool defend their crown? Defending the League Cup is always a tough ask and it’s not going to be made any easier for Jurgen Klopp’s men when they travel to Premier League Champions, Manchester City, on Thursday evening.

Liverpool’s league form this season has been uncharacteristic to say the least, compared to what we’re used to seeing from the Reds. After 14 games they find themselves in 6th place, 10 points behind opponents Manchester City.

With that said, the two sides have met once already this season at Anfield with Liverpool coming out on top. Unfortunately for Liverpool, the Citizens will be out for revenge and hoping to prove themselves after defeat against Brentford in the last league fixture before the break.

It is anyone’s guess how Thursday’s fixture will end; it won’t be easy for either side, however, Pep Guardiola’s team may just have the edge. There is little doubt that the winner of this game will be tipped as one of the favourites to win the competition, especially with the Blues’ incredible success in recent years.

So there you have it. An exciting round of fixtures beginning on Tuesday evening to get you in the ‘Festive Spirit’. All in all, it is anyone’s trophy for the taking this season and it is looking increasingly likely, as more teams are knocked out, that we could see a new name engraved on the cup.