Liverpool are set to feature in their first League Cup final since 2016 when they take on Chelsea at Wembley this afternoon, looking to win their first domestic cup in ten years, having last won the trophy in 2012.
Manager Jurgen Klopp will be looking to win the fifth major honour of his tenure with the Merseyside outfit, having already won the Champions League, Premier League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
However, it will certainly be a tall task against one of the Premier League’s best sides, who have also received some major injury news ahead of the final.
The Blues had concerns regarding the availability of four players ahead of the Wembley showdown, however, all of which have been deemed fit with long-term absentee Ben Chilwell the only player unavailable for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Reece James, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Mateo Kovacic had previously been doubts for the game. However, James returned to training this week after two months out whilst Mount was on the bench for the 2-0 Champions League win over Lille on Tuesday.
Both Ziyech and Kovacic hobbled off the pitch against the French outfit, but have been passed fit.
On the availability of the duo, Tuchel said on Friday: “We had training today with everyone out on the pitch except for Ben Chilwell which is brilliant news and this is pretty much it. Both okay, since today.
“They were not only on the pitch with separate programmes, everybody joined team training from the first to the last minute. We have no reactions at the moment but positive reactions.
“I hope it stays like this, we have another training tomorrow and everybody is available for Sunday.”
Marginal gains are huge when it comes to winning a cup final and facing a Chelsea side with a handful of injuries to key players would’ve certainly been an advantage for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
He himself could have striker Diogo Jota available with the Portuguese battling to prove his fitness in time but fellow centre-forward Roberto Firmino has been ruled out with a muscle issue.
“Bobby we have to see in the next two days. He is pushing himself really hard but he will not be available for the final, to reach the squad,” assistant manager Pep Lijnders revealed on Friday afternoon.
“We hope he will be back really soon because you all see and know and feel how important he is for our way of playing, so I am happy that he is pushing himself. Hopefully he is soon back.
“Jota, so far no reaction on the things he did, so the straight-line running, the changes of direction and the ball work he did, so that’s a good sign. He isn’t ruled out but still it will be a challenge.”
However, to see some of their opponents’ key players come back into contention will no doubt leave him feeling a little gutted.
Reece James seems unlikely to start but between Ziyech, Mount and Kovacic, the trio have a combined 92 appearances thus far across all competitions for the West London side, proving to be important fixtures in the team.
The former is in particularly strong form too, scoring in his last three Premier League appearances against Brighton, Tottenham and Crystal Palace whilst also registering an assist on Tuesday against Lille.
As a result, he could prove a menacing prospect for the Liverpool defence, one they’d much rather have not had on such a big stage.
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