4th May 2012 | Football
Both finalists slipped up with home defeats in midweek as the managers shuffled their packs in anticipation of ‘the big one.’ If we discard those results and instead focus on the overall form of the last two months then we can only come up with one winner.
Wednesday aside, Chelsea have been nothing short of scintillating under Roberto Di Matteo. An 11 match unbeaten run included a two-legged victory over Barcelona - regarded by many as the best side on the planet - and a 5-1 semi-final success over Tottenham. Throw in a 6-1 win in their last home game and we have a side brimming with confidence.
Di Matteo has a striker dilemma with Torres looking back to his old self after following his goal at the Nou Camp with a hat-trick against QPR. Or he could choose Drogba, a man who has found the net in every competitive game he has ever played at Wembley. The case for playing both must be compelling, but the Italian has excelled by packing the midfield. It’s a nice problem to have, as they say.
The same cannot be said of Liverpool for whom a Carling Cup victory only papers over the cracks. The Reds were incredibly fortunate to see off Championship opposition in February on penalties and there’s little reason to think they can match the Champions League finalists at the current time.
Two wins in eight Premier League matches tells its own story. It’s not even as if the fixture list has been particularly unkind. Defeats to Sunderland, QPR, Wigan, Newcastle, West Brom and Fulham have all come since March.
Dalglish apologists will say that it’s always different in cup football. So far that’s been true, but Saturday may be the time when that variance is exposed as wishful thinking. You would always fancy Liverpool at Anfield, but on neutral territory I just can’t see them beating a really top side at the moment.
The notion that the Londoners will be distracted by the Champions League final also looks a little far-fetched. If that was coming up in a few days that would be a legitimate issue, but the showdown in Munich is still a full fortnight away. I think Chelsea are good enough to win this game by a couple and I’ll take a punt on 2-0 at best odds of 11/1 with Ladbrokes.