Bengaluru, May 12: As Liverpool hurtle towards the FA Cup final 2022 against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (May 14), there are concerns about the players being burned out.
It is not a mere concern either. A cramped schedule saw Liverpool playing three matches over the past week. So, will they be able to give their best against a strong opposition? Has weariness already set in in their legs and minds?
However, former Liverpool player Don Hutchison believes that fatigue will not be a factor once the teams enter the huge Wembley Arena.
"Liverpool will get a day's extra rest compared to Chelsea as the Blues played Leeds United a day after the Reds played Aston Villa. But it doesn't matter anyway. Both the coaches will be in the same boat. Fatigue will obviously be there the night before FA Cup final when you think of the big final and all that.
"But once the players enter Wembley, see those fans, colours and all the noise, the adrenaline sort of kicks in to your legs. The fatigue will be there only at the end of the game and not at the start, so substitutions will be the key," Hutchison told a select group of journalists, in a virtual zoom session arranged by Sony Sports Network, who have the exclusive broadcast right of FA Cup in India.
The 52-year-old, who had also played for Premier League clubs like Everton, West Ham United, Sheffield United and Sunderland, said Liverpool are having one of the best seasons so far.
"Steven Gerrard (Liverpool great and present Villa manager) said this is the best Liverpool team in history (after the Premier League match against his former team) and I find no reason to disagree.
"They've had an incredible success this season where there'll end up playing close to 70 matches. Their trophy cabinet is awesome. The quadruple is still alive. Carabao Cup (EFL) is already in the bag, FA Cup final is coming, they've a chance to win the Premier League while the Champions League final against Real Madrid is going to be a mouth-watering one for sure," he said.
Hutchison also spoke in awe of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who recently signed a fresh two-year contract that will keep him tied at Anfield till 2026.
The German taskmaster's previous contract with the Reds was due to expire at the end of 2023-24 season.
"Hats off to Klopp. The moment he came from Borussia Dortmund, he had said "Don't judge me immediately, give me time,".. And see what he has done over the years. They've won Premier League under him and Champions League too. Under Klopp, Liverpool has one of the best strike force in the world football right now. They're a gigantic club now," he added.
At the same time, Hutchison has huge respect for Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel as well.
"Thomas (Tuchel) isn't someone who plays mind games like Jose Mourinho who was good at it. So too, Sir Alex Ferguson. But Tuchel has developed the team well on his own," he said.
The last time Liverpool met Chelsea in a cup final (Carabao Cup in February) the match was decided in penalties as both the teams failed to break the deadlock in the 90 minutes of regular time and then in the half-an-hour extra time.
But this time Hutchison does not see the match going that far and picked his favourites.
"Liverpool will get the job done. This match will be decided in 90 minutes. Chelsea are not in form. At the same time, Liverpool are on a roll. Mohammed Salah will raise his game in the final. He's a big-match player. Of course, not to forget Sadio Mane, who has been in incredible form," he added.
Pressed further for a predicted scoreline, pat came the reply. "Liverpool will win 3-1."
Date: May 14, Saturday
Kick-off time: 4.45pm local time (9.15pm IST)
Venue: Wembley Stadium
LIVE on SONY TEN 2 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels.