Chelsea look set to repeat Arsenal’s game-winning plan against Liverpool on Wednesday. We think the Reds have things covered, however.
Chelsea beat Manchester United at the weekend to reach the FA Cup final. What was particularly notable about their setup could worry Liverpool.
Frank Lampard set his side up in a 3-4-3. Reece James and Marcos Alonso played wing-backs, there was a flat two in midfield, and a striker flanked by two wide forwards.
It was very similar, then, to Arsenal’s system when they beat Liverpool 2-1 a week ago. While the Gunners obviously used different players, that was the overall shape of their team.
And much like Arsenal, Chelsea tasted victory, too. But, once again like Arsenal, they relied on mistakes to do it.
We wrote before that Arsenal game that the Gunners were actually playing into Liverpool’s hands. Particularly those of Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian typically excels against flat midfields and provides a platform for the Reds to win.
That one factor is enough for Liverpool to play well against sides with this setup. And, even though they lost, the Arsenal game somewhat proved that.
Firmino found the space for Andy Robertson to setup the opener. Liverpool had 8x as many shots as Arsenal. The Reds enjoyed over two-thirds of the ball.
They lost because of uncharacteristic mistakes – mistakes we don’t expect to see at Anfield on Wednesday.
Chelsea settled on 3-4-3 after a series of poor performances in recent weeks. Those came after both N’Golo Kante and Billy Gilmour picked up injuries, affecting their midfield. Both will miss Wednesday’s game, too.
So given the Blues were victorious with the system, and because a similar effort beat Liverpool last week, we expect them to try it again.
But we expect the Reds to be far more prepared mentally for this one. The truth is, Arsenal struggled to cope with it and relied on mistakes. Chelsea better hope for the same or they’ll get a very different result against Liverpool.