'The same weakness': Pat Nevin suggests how Chelsea can exploit Liverpool in the FA Cup final
Pat Nevin believes Chelsea might be able to exploit the spaces left behind by Liverpool in the FA Cup final later today.
Writing for the 5th Stand, Nevin detailed the part of the Wembley pitch that Thomas Tuchel’s men might have some joy in this afternoon.
Jurgen Klopp’s rampaging side admittedly have very few jinks in their armour.
Defensively, they are pretty sound, mainly thanks to one dominating Dutch defender.
The Reds can also harm opponents from pretty much anywhere on the field, thanks to their ever-energetic full-backs.
Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold love to bomb forward at any given opportunity and are more often the creators behind Liverpool’s countless goals.
Yet, this major strength can actually be Klopp’s Achilles heel.
Nevin lays out how Chelsea can exploit the space left by Liverpool
“It does however leave a gap in behind both players on the break,” explained Nevin whilst praising Robertson and Alexander-Arnold’s ability to attack.
“(Virgl) Van Dijk covers Robertson brilliantly on the left, reading the play like a latter-day Alan Hansen, but they are not always so diligent behind Alexander-Arnold.
“There have been games when players have found plenty of space in that precise area and the Blues will have to use it again at Wembley.
“Their sitting midfielders, the best at it being Jordan Henderson, do try to cover, but if (Kai) Havertz, Timo Werner, Mason Mount or Christian Pulisic get a head start, they are hard to catch.”
“Looking even further back, when Chelsea won at Anfield in March 2021, Mount scored cutting in from that precise area,” continued the former Blues winger.
“Werner also scored from precisely this sort of break, but it was ruled a nanometer offside.
“Late on, Mount slid a speeding Werner through for a one-on-one with Alisson, which the keeper was just able to block, but it should have been another goal.
“Once again, it stemmed from the same area and the same weakness. Tuchel will not have forgotten this.”
Who will Tuchel pick to penetrate the Reds?
Fingers crossed Tuchel can cast his mind back to the last time Chelsea defeated the Reds, where Mount and Werner ran riot at Anfield in the 1-0 victory.
Liverpool’s high line, accompanied by the gaps vacated by Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, could play into the Londoner’s hands if they approach it correctly.
For the plan to work, the Blues require pace but also intelligence.
For the latter, Mount and Havertz spring to mind, whilst Werner and Pulisic quite literally win the race in terms of speed.
But what about Romelu Lukaku?
The striker has found some form at just the right time ahead of the final.
He scored twice against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and looked back to his best in the 3-0 victory over Leeds United.
Lukaku took his goal at Elland Road like a centre-forward who had been doing it all season long.
As we all know, this isn’t the case.
However, if the Belgian can keep it up for the next couple of matches, he could still break the 20-goal mark, the first Chelsea player to do since Eden Hazard in 2018/19.
Does his skill-set lend itself to harming Liverpool, though?
Van Dijk certainly needs someone to keep him occupied, and who better to do so than the muscular number nine.
Take the centre-back out of the tie, for even a split second, and the Blues instantly gain an advantage.