Chelsea host Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round this evening with the English giants set to fight it out for a place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup. Liverpool – already being branded the champions elect in the Premier League head to west London looking to bounce back from Saturday’s shock 3-0 defeat away at Watford. That defeat ended their long unbeaten run in the league and manager Jurgen Klopp is hoping his players will respond in a positive way tonight.
The FA Cup isn’t seen as a top priority for Klopp as Liverpool are trying to defend their Champions League trophy, along with clinching their first league title in 30 years. Much to Liverpool’s thrilling campaign, the same can’t be said for Chelsea as they have more pressing concerns following Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Bournemouth. The Blues still sit in the top-four spot but face a tough fight in remaining there come the end of the season as the teams in and around them have gradually caught up to them. The likes of Manchester United and Wolves now just three points adrift from Frank Lampard’s team.
However, the current Europa League champions are almost certainly heading out of the Champions League having lost the first leg 3-0 at home to German giants Bayern Munich. Their upcoming exit will now suggest that Lampard will take the FA Cup more seriously.
Lampard has already confirmed he will be without Andreas Christensen as the centre-back has a knock and Antonio Rudiger is expected to be recalled. As it is a cup competition, Chelsea outcast Kepa Arrizabalaga is being tipped for a recall into the first team after seeing Willy Caballero move ahead of him for selection in recent weeks. The likes of Ross Barkley, Willian and Michy Batshuayi are pushing for starts as Chelsea’s long list of injured casualties’ remains.
Chelsea’s top goal scorer Tammy Abraham is set to miss out once again through illness, but his ankle injury isn’t as serious as first thought after seeing a specialist in Barcelona. N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi also aren’t in contention this evening with injuries. Lampard has also said that Ruben Loftus-Cheek won’t be part of the squad tonight after playing for the U23’s last night.
For Liverpool, once again they will be without captain Jordan Henderson as he’s still working his way back from a hamstring injury. Naby Keita and Xhedran Shaqiri also remain out with injuries.
Klopp is expected to rest key players in this fixture and give faith in the youngsters who have got them this far in the competition. The likes of Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will more than likely sit out, but Klopp may include one or two in the match day squad in case they desperately need a goal.
Kepa, James, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Tomori, Alonso, Jorginho, Gilmour, Willian, Batshuayi, Barkley
Adrian, N Williams, Matip, Gomez, Robertson, Jones, Lallana, Chirivella, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Origi
Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool
The game will be an intriguing one with lots of goals. Liverpool have lost two of their last three games in all competitions and Klopp will want to change that tonight. He will certainly rest his best defender in Van Dijk which will boost Chelsea’s chances considering Lovren and Matip aren’t best suited playing together. Klopp isn’t expected to field a full strength XI as next week’s Champions League second leg tie against Atletico Madrid will be on his mind, so the home side will be favourites in this one.
Chelsea have won just one of their last six games at home against Liverpool and tonight Lampard will hope that can change. Whenever these two face one another, the game has been an exciting one, but I expect Chelsea to go through in the tie and book their place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup.