Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Just four teams remain in the hunt for English football’s first piece of silverware in 2015 and fans will be anticipating another classic contest as giants Liverpool and Chelsea rekindle their cup rivalry.
These sides have met plenty of times in important cup matches over the last decade or so and their league meetings have also carried huge significance in recent years. Expect another explosive affair as these titans battle it out over 180 minutes, starting with this first-leg encounter at Anfield.
Reds Can Save Season With Cup Victory
There is no denying that Liverpool have disappointed this season, especially after the highs of 2013/14. Premier League disaster, combined with a premature Champions League exit, has ensured an extremely difficult campaign but Brendan Rodgers could salvage some success by guiding the Reds to their first trophy under his management.
Strangely enough, the last piece of Liverpool silverware came in the 2011/12 edition of this competition so some of those players know what it takes to win this trophy. That could prove to be vital against Jose Mourinho’s machine.
Liverpool have seemingly turned a corner in recent weeks and are now unbeaten in eight competitive fixtures. This is their best spell of the season and the pending return of Daniel Sturridge will only provide an extra boost in morale over the coming weeks; beating the Blues at Anfield would be a massive win.
With a second-leg at Stamford Bridge to come, Reds fans will feel that they must establish some sort of advantage here. Liverpool fans live for big midweek games at Anfield and we could be set for another special encounter.
Will It Be A Blues Cruise To Wembley?
This was the first competition that Mourinho won during his first spell as Chelsea boss, before going on to lift the Premier League in that same season, and the Special One would love to repeat history in 2014/15.
Chelsea have unquestionably been the best side in England this season, which was underlined by a dominant 5-0 win at Swansea last Saturday. The Blues are playing the most exciting brand of football and are also producing the results on a more consistent basis than any other club in the country. A season of silverware beckons as we approach the business end.
However, beating Liverpool is no easy task and the Blues will need to be at their best if they want to win at Anfield. The security of next week’s return clash means they’d probably settle for a draw but a first-leg advantage would be a real blow to the Reds ahead of that second-leg.
Mourinho may decide to rotate his squad but, with so many world class stars at his disposal, that shouldn’t impact the quality of his side. Whatever happens, it should be a thrilling ride for the neutral.
Liverpool V Chelsea Betting
Despite conceding home advantage in this vital first-leg, Chelsea are the favourites at 23/20 with Bet365. Meanwhile, Liverpool are available at 13/5 and the draw can be backed at 5/2.
It should be a cracking atmosphere and Liverpool will be well up for this one. However, the Blues are a phenomenal side and Mourinho is the master technician.
Chelsea would love to win this game but Mourinho would be more than happy to take a draw back to Stamford Bridge, where his men are particularly rampant. Expect the Blues to keep it tight at the back.
Under 2.5 match goals @ 11/13 with Ladbrokes
This season’s headlines have naturally gone to the likes of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas but the real beauty of Mourinho sides is their formidable defence; this current generation are arguably better than any previous incarnation and that should give them the edge here.
Liverpool have struggled for goals after Luis Suarez and the absence of Sturridge has piled the pressure on players like Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling. Those midfielders could find it tough going against a resolute Blues defence. At the other end, you’d fancy Chelsea to convert at least one chance.
Chelsea win to nil @ 11/4 with Paddy Power