The first major domestic trophy of 2023-24 is on the line as two familiar foes meet at Wembley Stadium, London. We look ahead to the EFL Cup final with our Chelsea vs Liverpool prediction and preview.

Chelsea vs Liverpool Stats: The Quick Hits

  • The Opta supercomputer makes Liverpool favourites to lift the EFL Cup for a record-extending 10th time, with the Reds beating Chelsea in 62.1% of match simulations.
  • With Chelsea and Liverpool meeting in two previous EFL Cup finals and two FA Cup showpiece games, this will be the first fixture to take place in five major English cup finals.
  • Chelsea’s former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling could become the 12th player to feature in five EFL Cup finals. He has won the previous four, in 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Match Preview

As was the case in 2021-22, Liverpool remain in the hunt for four major trophies as we approach the season’s decisive months. On that occasion, the Reds overcame Chelsea in two tense penalty shootouts to lift the EFL and FA Cups, and Jürgen Klopp will be eyeing a repeat when he takes his side to Wembley Stadium again on Sunday. However, with Liverpool’s selection problems piling up, Mauricio Pochettino’s men might fancy their chances of ending the Reds’ dream of a quadruple.

While it has been a smooth week for Liverpool on the pitch, with 4-1 wins over Brentford and Luton Town keeping them ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal in the Premier League title race, those victories came at a cost. Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones will miss Sunday’s game with injuries suffered at the Gtech Community Stadium, while Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah will be assessed after sitting out Wednesday’s win over the Hatters.

Dominik Szoboszlai is also a doubt in midfield, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson will definitely miss out. Those absences, though, should open the door for others to shine, as they have done throughout Liverpool’s League Cup campaign to date.

Cody Gakpo will probably start, and he has four goals in five EFL Cup games this term, with only Morgan Rogers – who recently left Middlesbrough for Aston Villa – netting more (five). The last Liverpool player to score more in a single EFL Cup campaign was Robbie Fowler in 2000-01, with the last of his six goals coming against Birmingham City in the final, which Liverpool won on penalties.

Whoever lines up in attack for Liverpool should cause Chelsea problems, with Gakpo (11) one of five Reds to reach 10 goals in all competitions this season alongside Salah (19), Jota (14), Núñez (13) and Luis Díaz (10). No other team in Europe’s top five leagues has a quintet of players in double figures.

One area of perceived weakness for Liverpool may be between the sticks, with cup goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher set to retain his place in the starting lineup. Kelleher has made 15 starts to Alisson’s 24 across all competitions this term, recording a save percentage of just 66.7% to the Brazilian’s 75.3%.

But Kelleher has generally deputised admirably when called upon over his Liverpool career, and the Irishman was one of the heroes when Liverpool met Chelsea in the final of this competition two years ago. He scored his penalty in a tense shootout before seeing his opposite number Kepa Arrizabalaga blast over the crossbar as the Reds triumphed 11-10 on spot-kicks after a goalless draw.

That was the sixth, and most recent, EFL Cup final to go to penalties. Liverpool have been involved in four of those contests, winning three and drawing one.

Revenge will not be Chelsea’s only motivation on Sunday, though, with the Blues eyeing their first piece of silverware of the Todd Boehly regime. Winning this competition would also provide Pochettino’s men with a valuable route into Europe, via automatic qualification to the UEFA Europa League, with the Opta supercomputer giving them just an 18.2% chance of finishing in the Premier League’s top seven ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.   

Chelsea were halfway to an embarrassing exit in the semi-finals, suffering a surprise 1-0 defeat in their first leg against Middlesbrough. However, the Blues ran riot in the second leg at Stamford Bridge, with Cole Palmer scoring twice and Enzo Fernández, Axel Disasi and Noni Madueke also on target in a ruthless 6-1 rout of Michael Carrick’s team.

Chelsea vs Middlesbrough xG race

Excluding own goals, the Blues have had eight different goalscorers in this season’s EFL Cup, their most since they last won the trophy in 2014-15, when nine different players found the net for them.

Chelsea should approach the Carabao Cup final in good spirits after their upturn continued with last week’s 1-1 draw at Man City, a result that boosted Liverpool’s title hopes. Raheem Sterling was on target against one of his former clubs at the Etihad Stadium, and he could yet haunt another at Wembley.

The former Liverpool winger could become the 12th different player to feature in as many as five EFL Cup finals, and he has a 100% success rate thus far, lifting the trophy with City in 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

In team news, Pochettino will be grateful to have had some long-term absentees return in recent weeks – Ben Chilwell and Christopher Nkunku to name two – but the unavailability of Reece James and doubts over Thiago Silva and Benoît Badiashile will still be a concern. This final also comes too soon for Wesley Fofana, Roméo Lavia, Marc Cucurella, Robert Sánchez and Lesley Ugochukwu.

Sunday’s game will be Pochettino’s second domestic cup final in charge of a Premier League club, with his Tottenham side losing to Chelsea in this competition in 2015. He will become just the third boss to take charge of an EFL Cup final both for and against the same side, after Ron Saunders (for Norwich City in 1973, against them in 1975) and Ron Atkinson (for Manchester United in 1983, against them in 1991 and 1994). Will the Argentine end his long wait for silverware in England?  

Chelsea vs Liverpool Head-to-Head

With Chelsea and Liverpool meeting in two previous EFL Cup finals (2005 and 2022) and two FA Cup finals (2012 and 2022), this fixture will be the first in English football to be played in five different domestic cup finals.

José Mourinho’s Chelsea beat Rafael Benítez’s Liverpool 3-2 in the 2005 EFL Cup final, before Liverpool inflicted penalty heartache on the Blues two years ago.

Overall, however, Chelsea have had the upper hand over Liverpool in this competition, winning four of the teams’ previous seven EFL Cup meetings.

Liverpool can take confidence from the sides’ last Premier League clash, though, a 4-1 win at Anfield under a month ago. Conor Bradley registered a goal and two assists for the Reds, but Chelsea were incensed by Nkunku being denied a penalty shortly after he made it 3-1. 

That result ended a run of seven consecutive draws between the teams in all competitions, four of which finished goalless.

Klopp, meanwhile, has fond memories of facing Pochettino on the big stage, having masterminded Liverpool’s 2-0 win over the Argentine’s Spurs team in the 2019 UEFA Champions League final.

Recent Form

Chelsea could make an unwanted piece of history on Sunday, having lost their last five major domestic cup finals – in the FA Cup in 2020, 2021 and 2022, and the EFL Cup in 2019 and 2022.

No team has ever lost six successive major finals in English football history.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are appearing in their 14th EFL Cup final, more than any other side. Their nine titles are a competition record, though they have alternated between winning (twice) and not winning (twice) in their last four EFL Cup finals.

The Reds have conceded exactly one goal in all five of their EFL Cup games this term; 3-1 vs Leicester City, 2-1 vs Bournemouth, 5-1 vs West Ham, 2-1 and 1-1 vs Fulham.

Only three teams have ever won the competition without keeping a single clean sheet that campaign; West Brom in 1965-66, Birmingham in 2010-11 and Man City in 2015-16.

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 football clubs on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Chelsea vs Liverpool Prediction

Chelsea vs Liverpool prediction Opta

Despite their selection issues, the Opta supercomputer is backing Liverpool to kickstart Klopp’s farewell tour with a trophy.

Across 10,000 match simulations conducted ahead of Sunday’s kick-off, the Reds won 62.1% within 90 minutes. Chelsea, meanwhile, are given just a 17.7% chance of winning inside regulation time.

The remaining 20.2% of scenarios saw the match go to extra time and potentially penalties. Given their recent history against Liverpool, Chelsea’s fans might wish to avoid that outcome…

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