Phil Babb: Liverpool Should Win Carabao Cup Despite Injury Crisis

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Phil Babb: Liverpool Should Win Carabao Cup Despite Injury Crisis
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Liverpool vs Chelsea Predictions:

Liverpool and Chelsea will battle it out for the EFL Cup trophy on Sunday afternoon, and best betting sites  have odds at the ready. 

The Blues beat Middlesbrough 6-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals, while Liverpool advanced to the Wembley showpiece thanks to victory against Fulham over two legs.

These two teams met in the final of this competition two years ago, with Liverpool triumphing on penalties following a 0-0 draw after extra time. 

Phil Babb, the former Reds defender, expects a similarly tight game this time around, as he told Gambling.com in an exclusive interview.

Liverpool Justifiably Favourites To Lift The Trophy

“Well with my red coloured glasses on, I'm going to favour Liverpool,” Babb told us. “But I think for this particular final, injuries are going to be the main topic of discussion.”

Both teams have numerous players missing. Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez will undergo late fitness tests, but there is no chance of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota, Alisson Becker or Curtis Jones featuring.

Chelsea remain without the likes of Reece James, Romeo Lavia and Wesley Fofana, but Mauricio Pochettino has grown used to being without that trio of late.

“Pochettino has got his own problems, but I still think (with) the strength in depth and the way Liverpool are playing, they’ve got to be favourites,” Babb said. 

The Reds were certainly impressive last time out, thrashing Luton Town 4-1 despite being some way less than full strength and they are narrow favourites to win the final on football betting sites.

Jurgen Klopp’s team have won five of their last six matches in all competitions, including a 4-1 demolition of Chelsea just last month. The Premier League leaders deserve to be favourites.

Tip: Liverpool To Lift The Trophy - 8/13 With Bet365

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Goals Could Be At A Premium At Wembley

In the 2021/22 season, Chelsea and Liverpool met in the final of both domestic cup competitions. 

The outcome was the same in the EFL Cup and the FA Cup: Liverpool triumphed on penalties following a 0-0 draw after extra time.

We could be in store for a similarly low-scoring encounter two years on. Chelsea have at times struggled to put the ball in the back of the net this season, while there is a sense that Pochettino still does not know what his best attacking line-up is.

Liverpool have had significantly fewer problems in that regard, but they could be without three top-class forwards and that will surely affect their performance - as Babb explained.

“It’s an interesting one, I think Chelsea have found a little bit of form of late,” the former defender said. 

“Great result against Manchester City [a 1-1 draw last weekend], so they’re going with some confidence - clearly, they’ll want to avenge the last final on penalties.

“I just think that if Liverpool have got again key (players out), Jota, Nunez, even Mo Salah has got a little niggle as well. 

“If we haven’t got that attacking force, it’s going to be hard to put a finger on where the goals are going to come from. So, I still favour Liverpool, but it’s going to be tight again, that’s for sure.”

Wembley finals are often cagey affairs. The stakes are so high and there are no second chances, so the avoidance of costly errors will be priority number one for both Chelsea and Liverpool. 

This should be an absorbing encounter, but maybe not necessarily be a goal-laden one for your punts on betting apps.

Tip: Under 2.5 Goals - 6/5 With Betfred

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This Final Could Go All The Way To Penalties

In 240 minutes of cup football between these two teams in 2022, not one goal was scored. 

Given the list of absentees, Babb would not be surprised if Sunday’s showdown at Wembley also required a penalty shoot-out to determine the winner.

“Yeah, I think it could really (go the whole way to penalties),” he added. As I said, it comes down to that team selection, the mindset, no one wants to give any quarter. 

“So it will be cagey, they normally are, and I think we could see it. And who knows, Caoimhin [Kelleher] could be the hero again.”

Phil Babb's Liverpool/Chelsea Carabao Cup Combined XI

Caoimhin Kelleher scored the winning kick in the EFL Cup final two years ago, helping Liverpool win an epic shoot-out 11-10. 

He will once again deputise for Alisson, while Djordje Petrovic looks set to start between the sticks for Chelsea even if Robert Sanchez is back from injury.

A total of six EFL Cup finals have been decided on penalties, including three involving Liverpool. 

The Reds were triumphant over Cardiff City in 2012, but were defeated by Manchester City in a shoot-out four years later.

Tip: Liverpool To Win On Penalties - 11/1 With Bet365

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Greg Lea

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