Liverpool

Liverpool

Premier League • England

Predicted Liverpool team to face Chelsea: Fabinho blow opens up battle for midfield place in FA Cup final

Ciaran McCarthy
Fabinho, Mateo Kovacic Chelsea v Liverpool February 2022

Thanks to an injury to key man Fabinho, the predicted Liverpool team to face Chelsea will see Jurgen Klopp call upon another midfield option.

Liverpool’s form in all competitions has been fantastic for much of the season. They have made it to three separate finals, and have a chance at winning the quadruple.

Their chances of winning the Premier League became more of a challenge last week when restricted to a 1-1 draw with Tottenham. They went on to beat Aston Villa in a tightly-contested game following that one, though, winning 2-1.

It has been hard to separate Liverpool and their FA Cup rivals for this weekend, Chelsea, this season. The pair drew 1-1 and 2-2 in their league meetings, and 0-0 in the Carabao Cup final, before the Reds won on penalties.

Liverpool will be hindered by the loss of Fabinho for the final. The Brazilian has played 47 games this season, but an injury will keep him out, though Klopp confirmed he will “definitely be back” for the Champions League final.

As such, the manager has a big choice to make in the centre of midfield.

Last time out – Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool

Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota celebrate

Klopp made a host of changes to face Aston Villa in the week, freshening things up after a loss and before the big game in the FA Cup.

Usual goalkeeper Alisson started in net. The full-back positions were occupied by Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Kostas Tsimikas, who came in for Andrew Robertson.

Virgil van Dijk and goalscorer Joel Matip played in the centre of the defence.

The midfield trio was Fabinho – who was forced off – alongside Curtis Jones and Naby Keita.

Star forward Mohamed Salah dropped out. Luis Diaz played on the right wing, with Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane – who scored the winner – in the other attacking roles.

Predicted Liverpool team against Chelsea

Klopp will no doubt go for as strong a side as possible, but of course without the injured Fabinho, who would likely have played.

Alisson is likely to play in net. Alexander-Arnold will surely play at right-back, with Robertson returning to play left-back.

Konate – who has played each of the FA Cup games this season – will likely partner Van Dijk at centre-back. Matip is yet to feature in the FA Cup this year and that won’t change here barring a role off the bench.

Henderson and Thiago Alcantara should return to the side, as they are regarded as two of Liverpool’s best three midfielders. Keita has played three of the last four FA Cup games, including the semi-final, so he could take the third midfield spot.

The potent attacking trio of Salah, Diaz and Mane may make up the front three. The trio started the semi-final victory over Manchester City, and should all be afforded a place for the final.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz

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