The team news has been confirmed ahead of the FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea, with a few surprises sprung – especially in the Blues’ ranks.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has opted to start Mateo Kovacic despite the midfielder aggravating a torn ankle ligament in the midweek victory over Leeds United.
The Croatian was the victim of Dan James’ red card horror tackle, with his ankle buckling under the force of the challenge. However, after suggesting he was willing to ‘take risks’ in the cup final, Tuchel has thrown Kovacic in from the start.
There is no place in the starting lineup for Kovacic’s midfield colleague N’Golo Kante, who has not played since late April and had been a doubt for Saturday’s clash.
Kai Havertz is absent from the squad altogether, likely due to injury, making the decision to start Romelu Lukaku that bit easier.
Young centre-back Trevoh Chalobah has earned a start having impressed against Leeds, with Cesar Azpilicueta left on the bench for the showpiece. Andreas Christensen has also been dropped, with Thiago Silva coming in in central defence.
As for Liverpool, Jordan Henderson predictably comes into an otherwise settled starting lineup in place of the injured Fabinho.
Ibrahima Konate has also been restored to the starting lineup ahead of Joel Matip, who featured against Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz
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