Premier League • England

Virgil van Dijk names ‘big thing’ that Liverpool see in Chelsea as major FA Cup final threat

Jonny Whitfield
Virgil van Dijk captains Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk has admitted that Chelsea have serious individual quality right across the pitch to hurt Liverpool in the FA Cup final.

The Reds and the Blues are going head to head at Wembley on Saturday for the second time this season. Indeed, the two sides faced off for the Carabao Cup in February, with Liverpool triumphing on penalties.

As a result, the FA Cup final will be the fourth meeting of the teams this season following two Premier League fixtures too.

And Netherlands captain Van Dijk has warned that Liverpool are now well aware of how Chelsea can hurt Jurgen Klopp’s team.

“The individual quality is a big thing,” the centre-back told Liverpool’s official website. “They have different ways to play against you, attack you and create dangerous moments.

“They have different moments they are also very good at; quality in midfield, up front, behind. They are a complete team.

“This last part of the season they haven’t been as consistent as they obviously wish to be – could be through injuries, different things, setbacks they had with [being] knocked out of the Champions League.

“But it doesn’t really matter in this final. This final is going to be one game, both teams want to win it as much as possible. It’s going to be a very tough and good game.”

Indeed, Chelsea came into the season off the back of what looked like expert investment on £97.5million striker Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian scored three goals in his first three appearances as Chelsea looked like firm Premier League title contenders.

However, the Blues have proved more inconsistent as the campaign has wore on.

Nevertheless, he could have won the Carabao Cup final for Chelsea, such was the tight nature of the game. He had a goal disallowed for offside in extra time.

Van Dijk hoping Liverpool, Chelsea trend ends

Virgil van Dijk celebrates victory after the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match at Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal

In the end, Van Dijk won the Man of the Match award in the first Wembley final of the season.

However, there has been little to split Liverpool and Chelsea in their three meetings this season – a trend which could well end on Saturday.

The two sides have drawn their Premier League matches together 1-1 and 2-2, with the Carabao Cup final ending 0-0 after extra time.

As such, the fourth meeting between the teams may well be the one where there is a notable difference between the teams.

Chelsea beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final 10 years ago and Van Dijk has said Saturday is a chance to set the record straight a decade on.

“This is the only trophy we didn’t win so far as a group of players since I’ve been at the club,” the defender said.

“Now we have a big chance – against a fantastic Chelsea.

“It has been maybe too long ago since the last time we won it as a club. We have a good chance to get this in our cabinet as well. We know how tough it’s going to be, we’ve seen already in the Carabao Cup final. We’ll see. We’ll go there and hopefully [have] a fantastic day out again.”

Chelsea want silverware to mark the end of a tumultuous season amid the sanctions on the club. Liverpool, meanwhile, are after a cup treble and a more unlikely quadruple with the Premier League.