The first of consecutive home matches against Merseyside opposition is a mouthwatering midweek FA Cup tie. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton run through the talking points ahead of Liverpool's visit to SW6...
Well here we go again: the most-played English fixture of the 21st century and the 62nd meeting in all competitions since the start of the 2000s between Chelsea and Liverpool. The small matter of a place in the last eight of the FA Cup is at stake, too.
The Reds are the first of the two Merseyside clubs to come calling this week as the season hots up. And let us not hear any suggestion that the so-called ‘big six’ clubs are no longer interested in the venerable old competition.
The last time Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, and the two Manchester clubs were all together in round five of the FA Cup was actually 1969. (Chelsea bowed out in the quarter-finals that season to West Brom, who are also present in this season’s last 16.)
It also seems likely that after fielding an Under-23 side for a replay with Shrewsbury during their winter break Liverpool will join Chelsea in fielding virtually a full-strength side. ‘The team that I put out will give everything to get through to the next round,’ Frank Lampard has said.
Past 20 FA Cup winners
Manchester City 2
Manchester Utd 2
Chelsea’s head coach also issued a reminder that his team have twice played very well against the Merseysiders this season and been unfortunate to lose: 1-2 in the league, and on penalties after a 2-2- draw in the UEFA Super Cup.
Last time out at the Bridge the Blues saw off another great rival, Tottenham, and it will be intriguing to see how the league leaders respond to Saturday night’s thumping. In fact, a quarter of the league goals they have conceded this campaign came in their past two matches against West Ham and Watford.
Chelsea have scored in all but one of our past 48 FA Cup games played at home since January 2000, and have also progressed to three of the past four quarter-finals of football’s oldest club competition.
The FA Cup – who wants it most?
Chelsea have won the FA Cup eight times compared to Liverpool’s seven. The other 14 clubs left in this competition also want to lift the trophy aloft at Wembley on 23 May, but some may have a greater desire (or need) to do so than others. For serial winners such as the Blues, for example, does a 0-3 deficit before the away leg against Bayern in the Champions League elevate the FA Cup among the season’s priorities?
Liverpool are certainties to win the Premier League for the first time in 30 years, but also have a 0-1 loss to Atletico Madrid to overturn next week at Anfield. Their players looked fatigued at Vicarage Road, so will Jurgen Klopp rest key men tonight?
Then there is the fact an FA Cup win clinches a berth in next season’s Europa League. Of those clubs left in the competition, four are currently in Champions League qualifying, while as things stand Tottenham would be in UEFA’s second competition.
Realistically, West Brom are also the only Championship club left in the FA Cup with the prize of promotion to aim for; the other five are clustered in 12th-16th place.
Most, though, will want to win it because it is a long time since they have done so, if at all.
|LAST FA CUP WIN||CURRENT STATUS|
|Manchester City||2019||2nd in PL (CL place*)|
|Chelsea||2018||4th in PL (CL place)|
|Arsenal||2017||10th in PL|
|Manchester Utd||2016||5th in PL (EL place)|
|Portsmouth||2008||3rd in L1|
|Liverpool||2006||1st in PL (CL place)|
|Tottenham||1991||7th in PL (EL place)|
|West Brom||1968||1st in Ch|
|Newcastle||1955||14th in PL|
|Derby||1946||13th in Ch|
|Sheffield Wed||1935||12th in Ch|
|Sheffield Utd||1925||8th in PL|
|Leicester||None||3rd in PL (CL place)|
|Birmingham||None||15th in Ch|
|Norwich||None||20th in PL|
|Reading||None||16th in Ch|
(*Pending outcome of Man City Champions League ban appeal.)
Alonso comes alive
Although the Blues were guilty yet again of squandering chances and conceding from a few openings, Marcos Alonso has scored in successive league games for the first time in his career. The wing-back, flourishing in the 3-4-3 system used since N’Golo Kante was injured, has netted three in three and, across all domestic competitions, defenders have accounted for seven of the 10 goals scored in our past five games.
Frank Lampard noted ‘when I think that my left-back is the one scoring the two goals and he scored our last goal in the league as well, and you’re creating that many chances in between, you have to question why we’re not finishing them.’ (Over to you, forwards.)
The head coach suggested he will field a very strong side tonight, with one or two changes for reasons of freshness and tactics. Michy Batshuayi, for instance, has scored 14 goals in 20 domestic cup appearances for the Blues.
Jorginho’s suspension next weekend may prompt Lampard to try options in that area, and Kepa Arrizabalaga must be hoping for a chance to reclaim the goalkeeping jersey.
How they reached round five
Round 3 Round 4
Chelsea Nottm Forest h 2-0 Hull City a 2-1
Liverpool Everton h 1-0 Shrewsbury a 2-2, h 1-0 (replay)
Jurgen Klopp has said his squad will include some of the youngsters who deputised for his first team in the previous round, beating Shrewsbury 1-0 at Anfield, but made no guarantees they would start. Curtis Jones is leading scorer for the Reds in this season’s competition, alongside own goals. (Under-23s coach Neil Critchley will definitely not be involved as he has just taken over at Blackpool.)
With only one or two injuries, notably to Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson, the German may rest some of the nucleus of the regular team who looked frazzled at times on Saturday. The likes of Divock Origi and Adam Lallana could feature, as well as returning stalwarts Joe Gomez and James Milner.
FA Cup and Champions League catch-up
For those clubs making it through, the draw for round six of the FA Cup, the quarter-finals will take place after Wednesday’s match between Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City.
Without injured marksman Robert Lewandowski, and despite play halting twice for a controversial banner held up by their fans, Bayern won 6-0 at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Beeb doubles up on cup coverage
On Tuesday and Wednesday viewers will be able to choose either of two matches shown live on the BBC. Chelsea-Liverpool will remain on BBC One, but the Championship/Premier League clash between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle will be streamed through iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.
The following evening live streams will be available for the all-Premier League clash between Tottenham and Norwich, and Manchester City’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday. As with Portsmouth and Arsenal last night, Derby County versus Manchester United on Thursday will be available to BT Sport subscribers only.
Tonight continues the nostalgia trip through teams previously beaten twice by Chelsea en route to winning the FA Cup: Nottingham Forest (1999/00, 2006/07), Hull (1999/00 again, 2017/18), and now Liverpool (1996/97, 2011/12).
The west Londoners have not lost to the Reds in the past four domestic cup encounters between the pair.
Carlo Ancelotti was red-carded after Everton’s match against Man United at the weekend and may be banned from the Stamford Bridge dugout he graced as a Double-winning coach from 2009 to 2011.
Chelsea Women, already winners of the Conti Cup after beating Arsenal, are in FA Cup quarter-final action after the international break away to Everton. That is a 2pm kick-off at the Walton Hall Park ground on Sunday 15 March.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek completed more miles on the comeback trail with the full 90 minutes in Chelsea Under-23s’ 1-0 win over Everton at Aldershot last night (Monday). Loftus-Cheek was fouled for the penalty from which Luke McCormick scored the only goal.
Arsenal were not the only beneficiaries of results against Liverpool recently. Thanks to West Ham, Chelsea’s outstanding record of conceding only 15 goals over a Premier League season set in 2004/05 remains intact. The Hammers’ goals at Anfield on Monday made it 17 scored against Liverpool this campaign. Two of those the Blues let in came after the title had been won at Bolton, and one of those was a Geremi own goal.
Victory over the Hammers did edge Liverpool closer to another famous Blues record, making it 54 league games since they lost at home. They remain a whopping 32 matches away from Chelsea’s Premier League record sequence of 86 unbeaten, which started in May 2004 and came to an end at the hands of the Reds and Xabi Alonso in October 2008.
Round five regulations
The Video Assistant Referee system will be in operation at all Premier League stadiums in the competition this season. The fifth round was also switched to midweek to accommodate the winter break, with no replays permitted.
All eight of the ties will be decided on the night. If scores are level after 90 minutes, extra time and penalty kicks, if required, will determine who goes through.
Should either Chelsea or Manchester City progress to the quarter-finals, the Premier League fixture at Stamford Bridge on Saturday 21 March will be rearranged.
Jorginho is available as his suspensions apply only to the competitions in which they were handed out: the Premier League and Champions League.
FA Cup fifth round fixtures and results
Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 2
Chelsea v Liverpool 7.45pm
Reading v Sheffield United 8pm
West Brom v Newcastle 8pm
Leicester v Birmingham 7.45pm
Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester City 7.45pm
Tottenham v Norwich 7.45pm
Derby v Manchester United 7.45
Source: Chelsea FC