John Terry and Fernando Torres hope to keep Chelsea's momentum alive.
Two teams, one prize
Liverpool takes on Chelsea at Wembley in a powerhouse FA Cup Final (Live on FOX Soccer, Saturday, noon ET) that promises to be a thriller. A win for the Blues would give them their fourth FA Cup in six years, while a victory for the Reds would give them their second piece of silver this season. Here are the eight men you must watch this Saturday:
Roberto Di Matteo, manager, Chelsea
The team is in the Champions League final after knocking off mighty Barcelona, and the “interim” manager’s record speaks for itself: 16 games, only one loss. If he doesn’t lose the interim tag soon, something’s very wrong. Di Matteo’s got the tactics right, the players look ten years younger and he’s not losing games. He got the once-tanking Blues favorites on Saturday.
Fernando Torres, F, Chelsea
What was bigger: his goal against Barcelona to ice the game, or his hat trick against QPR? The Spanish striker is back, and Liverpool is going to have to figure out a way to stop him. He’s finally showing the confidence and skill many thought had deserted him, and it’s coming at exactly the right time for the Blues. He given Roberto Di Matteo a bit of a selection headache – but so what?
Juan Mata, M, Chelsea
One of the best creators in the game, the winger has proved to be the spark that the Blues need. Drifting to the center, delivering inch-perfect passes and reliably doing the work at both ends of the field, Mata is a candidate for Chelsea’s player of the year. Everyone knew the former Valencia man had talent but did anyone expect the consistency and run of form he’s displayed? No, they didn’t.
Steven Gerrard, M, Liverpool
Steven Gerrard has called on Liverpool to make improvements in the Premier League next season.
Luis Suarez, F, Liverpool
Torres who? Suarez had a hatter of his own this weekend and the controversial Uruguayan striker is eager to put all the antics and bad behavior behind him. Coming off a big game that broke an arid spell, Suarez can create and score – what he needs is support, something that been in precious short supply at times.
Daniel Agger, D, Liverpool
The defender has been vital for the Reds this season, proving to be a rock in the back and stabilizing what has been at times a porous back line. When Agger is in, he’s often the best defender on the pitch. When he’s not, Liverpool struggle to clear their lines and can look flustered. He’s going to face a lot of firepower this weekend.
Kenny Dalglish, manager, Liverpool
It’s not been the greatest season for King Kenny. Yes, they won the Carling Cup and yes, they can lift the FA Cup. But they are out of Europe and sit over 30 points behind their arch-rivals in Manchester. It’s not good enough. His tactical management has been questioned, and his reaction to the Suarez imbroglio remains a stain on his reputation. He badly needs to win this Cup to put something of a gloss on this season.