Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea (6-5 pens)
FA Cup Final, Wembley
May 14, 2022
Missing that clinical touch
Next he tried his own luck, but there were players back to block – this all in the opening spell of the game.
All that and nothing to show for it – plus the best chance of all, Diaz denied by Edouard Mendy after two outside-of-the-boot passes in the buildup.
In the League Cup final we weren’t clinical or ruthless and it meant the game went the distance to penalties; this time our profligacy allowed Chelsea back in the game as the first half went on and they had a handful of chances they should have netted from themselves.
Second half was more of the same as Roberson hit the post, Diaz curled a couple wide and more besides.
The end result: extra time once more. Penalties once more.
Salah added to injury list
There was, early on, a concern that Alisson might have to depart – he got studs in the shin making a big block on Marcos Alonso.
After some treatment he ploughed on through the pain, but the injury worries weren’t over – Salah went down off the ball soon after.
For Mo, there was no recovery and no clear indication of what the issue was either, though the physio stretches and attention would suggest a hip flexor or groin issue.
Again, with Paris looming large and the league still to play for, this is a big concern even with Salah’s admittedly well below-par form of late.
On a lesser note, he could also miss out on the Golden Boot now if he cannot recover and Spurs’ Son continues his hot streak at the end of the campaign.
A question of centre-backs
Let’s set aside Virgil concerns for a moment – when he’s fit, he plays. If he’s not, there’s no real question anyway.
But Matip and Konate have been taking turns in certain games in the latter stages of this season, and there might be a tendency to feel big Ibou has just edged ahead given he has started several big games in Europe and now at Wembley.
Instead, though, it still feels that it’s circumstantial: he suits certain types of forwards and attacking teams, while Matip benefits us for others.
Against Real Madrid for example, with the wily movement and intelligence of Benzema, it would still be a massive surprise if Matip didn’t start for the Reds.
Right now though, the only points of note should be to applaud Konate’s development and consistency, and his performance during 90 minutes and more in the FA Cup final.
He was excellent throughout, aerially dominant, really good with his covering work and as impressive as ever in his passing range.
A fantastic dilemma for the boss in any given game.
Two tremendous standouts
One at either end of the pitch – Alisson was excellent over two hours. At everything.
His handling, his aerial claims, his footwork and starting position – they were all first class.
Distribution was quick and concise, accurate and intelligent, but above all else, his one-on-one timing and smothering was nothing short of elite, as it has so often been.
Add in his penalty save on Mason Mount and Ali was the finest in the team.
Not far behind him was Diaz up the other end, with the Colombian forward superb throughout and only unfortunate to not score or set up the winner at some stage.
It’s two trophies in 103 days since signing!
For a bit of context, for Everton‘s last two major honours we need to go back to 1987.
TWO IN THE BAG!
Just about, but we got it!
Yes, it keeps the quadruple bid alive.
At this stage, it’s probably more so just to add a few more days to how long that particular challenge goes on for, as we’re relying on an unlikely City slip, but there’s a more important aspect.
That is that it keeps the Liverpool squad’s momentum and morale up, their optimism and feeling of unbeatability, heading towards Paris after a couple more league games.
Our major focus now has to be, realistically, on making sure players are rested and fit and ready for the Champions League final.
It could be four, but let’s just make absolutely sure that it’s three.