How Men's FA Cup final vs. Chelsea could go long way in defining Liverpool's season

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool (R) and Antonio Rüdiger of Chelsea battle for the ball during the Carabao Cup final, which the Reds would go on to win on penalties. (Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty)

Brilliantly average?  Two words that hang heavy over the red side of Liverpool, but that is the situation the Anfield club could find itself in if it loses this Saturday’s FA Cup final to Chelsea.

Of course, a triumphant Champions League final in Paris on May 28 would silence the naysayers regardless of what happens this weekend, but with Manchester City odds-on favourites to close out the Premier League title race, a loss at Wembley this weekend would pile enormous pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s men, who conceivably could end the 2021-22 season with only a League Cup to show for its efforts.

It is a ludicrous thought really, and this is taking nothing away from the Carabao Cup, but the reality is that after the brilliance of this campaign — a club-defining 10 months, in fact — to come out on the other side with so little, an average season really, is almost an unbearable thought. 

Such is the nature of the current situation in England and across Europe. Liverpool is obviously one of the top sides, but Manchester City has a better recent resume. Real Madrid, who will meet Liverpool in Paris, have the greatest European pedigree of them all, and almost seem destined to win their 14th European Cup. And Chelsea just seem to match up so well with their rivals, having drawn each other three times this season — the 0-0 Carabao Cup final was as enthralling a match as we have seen this season, all the way to Liverpool’s penalty shootout win.

That is why there is so much riding on the FA Cup final for Liverpool. Adding an eighth FA Cup trophy to the cabinet would take some pressure off the club ahead of the Champions League final, as a domestic Cup double is nothing to scoff at. And as soon as history considers the quality of football the team has played, in many ways a transformative brand of football, this Liverpool team will be remembered fondly.

This acknowledgement is important. After all, in the 2000-01 season, Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool won a Cup treble — the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup. However, perhaps unfairly, the football world considers that accomplishment the “Mickey Mouse Treble” and certainly Houllier’s Reds were not renowned for the style of their football — far from it, in fact.

These ingredients contribute to what should be an intense affair on Saturday.  Considering that Chelsea is a club — and more importantly a fanbase — that deserves some good news, the FA Cup provides great medicine. Blues fans have seen the very existence of their club thrown into doubt in recent months due to the sanctions imposed on Russian owner Roman Abramovich, and with it the freezing of all club accounts.  A new owner — American Todd Boehly — appears to the knight in shining armour riding in to save the Knightsbridge club, but these have been some worrying times.

With one Premier League title and one Champions League trophy to go along with this year’s League Cup, Klopp has brought back winning days to a Liverpool club that had fallen hard and fast from its all-glory '70s and '80s era.  But would that be enough when compared, for example, to a Chelsea club that has two European Cups and numerous Premier League crowns in the past two decades, to be considered a truly legendary period?

No, only trophies will do.

The promise of something truly magnificent still hangs in the air, but so does that brilliantly average anvil.

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.