LIVERPOOL take on Chelsea in Sunday's EFL Cup final from Wembley. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) takes a look at the best bets on offer.
Chelsea vs Liverpool | Saturday 27th February 2022, 16:30 | Sky Sports
The first piece of silverware is on the line as World Club winners Chelsea take on Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley.
It’ll be the first time since Chelsea’s triumph in 2015 that the trophy won’t return to Manchester after City’s domination in recent seasons, winning it five times in the last six years. In 2017, it went to Old Trafford.
Both sides arrive on the back of wins in midweek. The Blues beat Lile 2-0 in the Champions League, but that came at a cost as Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech both limped off, meaning they’ll face fitness tests.
While it was a comfortable night for Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday, sweeping past Leeds 6-0 with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both scoring twice. And Jurgen Klopp will be relieved that his players came through that one unscathed.
So, will it be a ninth League Cup success for Liverpool or a sixth for Chelsea?
Goals, corners + cards in the last 10 League Cup finals
I went through the finals from the last 10 years, collecting some numbers to see if there were any trends, given it’s a one-off game with a trophy at stake.
- 2021 – 1 goal | 11 corners | 3 cards | BTTS No
- 2020 – 3 goals | 16 corners | 5 cards | BTTS Yes
- 2019 – 0 goals | 8 corners | 5 cards | BTTS No (AET)
- 2018 – 3 goals | 9 corners | 6 cards | BTTS No
- 2017 – 5 goals | 15 corners | 5 cards | BTTS Yes
- 2016 – 2 goals (2 in 90) | 14 corners | 10 cards | BTTS Yes (AET)
- 2015 – 2 goals | 10 corners | 5 cards | BTTS No
- 2014 – 4 goals | 16 corners | 2 cards | BTTS Yes
- 2013 – 5 goals | 9 corners | 3 cards | BTTS No
- 2012 – 4 goals (2 in 90) | 22 corners | 3 cards | BTTS Yes (AET)
So, in the last 10 finals, there have been:
- 27 goals scored in 90 minutes
- 130 corners (includes ET)
- 47 cards (includes ET)
Going back even further, seven finals have gone to extra-time since 2000. While nine have seen one side win by a solitary goal, including three of the last five.
Cup finals can be tight affairs, especially early on. Chelsea have been fairly resolute throughout the season, so they’ll be looking to keep Liverpool at arm’s length for as long as possible.
And for my first angle, I’ve put together a 13/10 Bet Builder, which the stats make appealing. Quite simply, it’s both teams over 3 corners and both teams to receive a card.
In the Premier League, only Man City (229) have taken more corners than these two. Liverpool average 7.7 per league, while Chelsea’s average is 6.4. So, straight away you must like the look of them both hitting four.
Looking at their league records for taking 4+ corners, then Chelsea have done it 21 times out of 25 games (84%). While Klopp’s men have achieved it 23 times out of 26 (88%) – twice they didn’t, they finished on exactly three.
Throw your mind back to their meeting in January when there were 13 corners in total –Liverpool won the count 7-6. While the Anfield clash saw 15 corners, Chelsea only managed three after Reece James’ first-half dismissal.
The second part needs both teams to pick up a card and we’ve got the perfect official for that in Stuart Attwell.
The Warwickshire whistler has shown 42 yellows and one red in the Premier League, an average of 3.3 cards per game. He’s also taken charge of two FA Cup ties this season where he’s shown two cards in each – one to both teams.
Overall, in all competitions, Attwell has issued one card to each team in 14 of his 18 outings (78%). He makes it look like an art, even in cagey games where there are few fouls.
He’s overseen two Liverpool games, booking Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson, while Marcos Alonso was his Chelsea victim. Defenders, watch your step!
So far in the league, the Blues have picked up a card in 22 of 25 matches (88%). Meanwhile, that figure is 18 of 26 for the Reds (69%). It’s a final and it’s always competitive between these two. Remember, Mane was booked in the first minute at Stamford Bridge in January!
For two sides that have solid corner data, both can pick up cards and a ref who is not afraid to dish them out, then 13/10 looks like a price having on side.
The second angle I’m taking is based on my opinion of how this will play out – a case of Klopp v Tuchel and the players they have available.
It’s been well documented that Chelsea are struggling to find a rhythm to their attacking play in the past few weeks. My Chelsea-supporting mate described them as “bland”, and you can see that the situation is frustrating Tuchel.
They’ve struggled without Ben Chilwell and Reece James, but it’ll be a boost seeing Mason Mount returning to fitness for some needed guile and incisiveness in the final third. Plus, Tuchel does have a few selection calls to make after Tuesday night.
His German counterpart has little of those issues with plenty of star quality all over the pitch, and there’s plenty in the final third, especially after the January capture of Luis Diaz.
This could be won in midfield, so that’s a key battle that I’ve eyed up. Fabinho v N’Golo Kante is likely to be an area where the game could be won or lost. And I’d say with the likely presence of Jordan Henderson and Thiago that the pendulum swings ever so slightly in Liverpool’s favour.
We all know what this Reds front three is capable of, and Klopp has more depth to choose from compared to Tuchel’s options. So, once again, I’m leaning towards the Merseyside outfit.
Now, with me edging that way and expecting this to be quite a close encounter, then the second angle I’m playing is Liverpool to win by one goal at 14/5.
As I’ve laid out above, Klopp has more firepower to see his side lift this trophy. And looking back at these finals, then they are generally close. Since 2000, nine have been won by a single goal, including three of the last five.
Teams strong at the back have managed to stifle Liverpool at times this season, but the Reds have generally found a way to win. That can be said about their trip to Wolves in December and, more recently, Burnley.
Despite Chelsea having the winning habit in finals lately, I’m siding with Liverpool to claim their first League Cup since 2012 in a hard-fought contest.