Huffpost UK Sport

Chelsea V Liverpool FA Cup Final Preview: Will It Be Another Blue Winner In London? (VIDEO)

Posted: Updated:
DROGBA SUAREZ
PA

So trouble-free was the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and their Merseyside neighbours Everton that the police could have been afforded a smile for thinking any mither had been avoided in north London for the remainder of the campaign. But then Chelsea thrashed Tottenham 5-1 to book a final berth.

The enmity between the west London cockneys and the Scousers should not be underestimated. Evidence does not merely stem from a scene in the 2004 film The Football Factory involving Stanley knives, but a happening that occurred the same year. The Happening was Jose Mourinho.

Bullish and belligerent, the Portuguese had already angered Sir Alex Ferguson at Porto. But whereas the two broke bread on the opening day of the 2004/05 campaign, Mourinho had no interest in engaging in pleasantries with Rafael Benitez and his L4 hordes.

LIVERPOOL WIN THE DERBY FOR A FINAL PLACE

In his debut season in England, Chelsea met Liverpool five times, winning three and losing one. That one defeat was a Champions League semi-final settled by Luis Garcia. Or rather, the linesman who adjudged that the Spaniard's effort had crossed the line at the Kop End when it hadn't.

"The best team lost. After they scored only one team played, the other one just defended for the whole game," Mourinho bitterly insisted. "Liverpool scored, if you can say that they scored, because maybe you should say the linesman scored," he added.

It was a tedious last four tie in which both teams' buses were parked in front of goal, with a crack in the Blues' window putting neutrals out of their misery.

Two months previously Mourinho had first angered Liverpool fans. In the Carling Cup final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Steven Gerrard - who was being ardently courted by Chelsea - scored an own goal to level the match with under 10 minutes remaining. Mourinho, rather than animatedly celebrating the leveller or instructing his players, strode coolly down the touchline like Harvey Keitel from Reservoir Dogs and put his finger to his lips in front of Liverpudlians.

MOURINHO FANS THE FLAMES IN CARDIFF

Rather than silence, he got a barrage of inevitable vitriol. The taunt saw him sent off as his team won the game 3-2 in extra-time, but the rivalry had been sealed.

Benitez's side beat Chelsea in the semi-final of the FA Cup the following season, but it was the clubs' second knockout Champions League meeting in 2007 when Mourinho so overstepped the mark even Sir Alex Ferguson defended Liverpool.

The Chelsea manager allegedly called the Anfield side a "small club" prior to the fixtures. When the Reds beat the Blues again, Gerrard - who did a U-turn after handing in a transfer request to join Chelsea two years previously - couldn't help but have a dig.

CHELSEA BEAT SPURS IN THE SEMIS

"Not bad for a small club," he piped up. Mourinho would travel to Anfield only once more before he departed Stamford Bridge in September 2007.

Although the self-proclaimed Special One has departed, many of his charges remain. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole all played a part in those tetchy affairs over the course of three campaigns.

The fans were flamed too when Chelsea beat Spurs at Wembley last month. A minute's silence on the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster was cut short after some Blues fans failed to observe the 60 seconds.

chelsea
Chelsea players on the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster

Some hollered "murderers", in reference to Heysel. Manchester United first fans started chanting this half-a-dozen years ago or so, and Everton, the Reds' second biggest rivals, followed suit. That Chelsea fans chant it more regularly than the Toffees' fans underlines the hostility they have built up towards the red half of Merseyside. It should be lively.

THREE KEY PLAYERS

DIDIER DROGBA
An obvious choice, but the 34-year-old's big-game prowess is arguably unrivalled in European football over the past decade. His bout of malaria last season compelled many to pen his career obituary, but he has come back with a vengeance this term.

In the Blues' biggest games against Napoli, Tottenham in the semi-final and the two legs against Barcelona, he was at his brilliant, alpha male best. Had he not been on the pitch, it is difficult to imagine Chelsea winning any of those matches.

drogba
Drogba jumps for Joy after his brilliant opener against Spurs

One of his greatest performances in a blue shirt came at Anfield in 2004. He didn't score, but assisted all four of Chelsea's goals in an astounding 4-1 win. He has hit eight goals against Liverpool and only failed to score past them last season and this season. So far...

LUIS SUAREZ
Like Drogba, the obvious choice. The Uruguayan is the sole world-class player Kenny Dalglish has at his disposal, and he picked a good time to belatedly exhibit the finishing prowess he was synonymous with at Ajax last week.

suarez
Suarez celebrates his equaliser against Everton in the semi

His hat-trick against Norwich was one of the best individual displays of the season, while prior to that his finish in the semi-final against Everton was supremely confident, despite the helping hand Sylvin Distin gave him. The 25-year-old scored in the previous rounds against Brighton and Stoke too.

STEWART DOWNING
You can't mention Downing's name without also mentioning the £20m he cost from Aston Villa last summer. That Villa successfully extorted such an amount is a damning indictment on Dalglish's decision-making, but the Scot should feel aggrieved at how dismal Downing's displays have been.

However he will be persevered with for Andy Carroll's benefit. The former Newcastle striker may be technically inept, but he has been starved of service this season, and 27-year-old Downing is the main culprit for this.

downing
Downing and Dalglish celebrate his strike past Stoke in the quarters

His only goals this campaign have come in the FA Cup, but his selection in the side is more owed to providing the ammunition for Carroll. The Wembley final is a make-or-break 90 minutes for both north-easterners.

Around the Web

Soccer's FA Cup Final: Liverpool, Chelsea and the Tracks of My Tears

FA Cup Final - Mikel Eyes Country's Milestone

Liverpool warms up for FA Cup final with loss

Mark Lawrenson's FA Cup final and Premier League predictions

David Prentice: FA Cup Final offers Liverpool FC striker Luis Suarez the ...