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League Cup - Football: Liverpool have firepower to claim Wembley glory

Liverpool and Chelsea go head-to-head for the first major silverware of the English football season when they clash at Wembley in the League Cup final - and the pre-match stats suggest the Reds should crucially have more firepower on the day.

This heavyweight showdown between the joint-record eight-times winners Liverpool and five-times-winners Chelsea looks set to be a tight affair but Jurgen Klopp's free-flowing side have been firing in plenty of goals of late to suggest they should edge it.

Liverpool's attacking output greater

The two previous meetings between the sides in the Premier League this season have both ended in draws, 1-1 at Anfield in August and then 2-2 at Stamford Bridge at the turn of the year. However, tellingly, in both matches Liverpool had more shots (34-21), shots on target (13-9), touches in opposition box (59-43) and possession (55.4%-44.6%) than the Londoners with their shot conversion rate the only metric really letting them down when it mattered most, which was 14.3%-8.8% in Chelsea's favour.

There may end up being not much in it come Sunday, but a confident and fully-functioning Liverpool frontline have the tools to score more.

Key men are in form

To further the argument Liverpool are more likely to win, you only need to look at the recent goal output of the two sides, both overall and in terms of individual players' performance. The Reds have hit 19 across their last eight games in all competitions - including six most recently on Wednesday against Leeds United - compared to 11 goals for Chelsea in their last eight games in the same period.

Liverpool also have Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and new signing Luis Diaz (the likely front three with injuries to Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino) bang in form. Salah took his tally to the season to a superb 27 with two more goals against Leeds, Mane hit two as well on Wednesday to move him on to 13 for the campaign. Finally, Diaz, who has one goal from his first three appearances, has slotted in seamlessly since he joined from Porto last month, amassing 12 shots so far, of which five have been on target.

Add in the creativity from the full-backs - Trent Alexander-Arnold has 16 assists and Andy Robertson has 12 in all games so far this term - and Klopp's outfit are clearly a well-oiled and fearsome attacking machine. Another point not to be overlooked is that other players, aside from the aforementioned in-form frontmen, are also weighing in with goals. Centre-backs Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk both scored in midweek, Fabinho, from midfield, has six goals this season, while there have been other significant contributions from across the squad. Takumi Minamino has seven goals, of which four have come in the League Cup this season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has registered an important three goals across the piece, the same amount as skipper Jordan Henderson.

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Lukaku problems

In comparison, Chelsea are struggling to find their attacking edge. Some will put that down to a woefully-out-of sorts Romelu Lukaku. Hailed as the missing piece who would lead them to the title this season when he rejoined for a huge £97.5million in the summer, the Belgian - after a solid-enough start - has failed to catch fire in west London. His ridiculously low total of just seven touches in last weekend's 1-0 win at Crystal Palace has been well-documented and rightly derided but, worryingly, it appears his very public fall-out with boss Thomas Tuchel in December has affected him badly.

Lukaku was left out of the squad when an interview aired from Italian TV when he claimed he wasn't being used properly by the German coach and he made it clear he wasn't happy with how the season was going. He hasn't been the same player since. The former Manchester United and Inter forward, who is normally prolific wherever he goes, was left on the bench in midweek against Lille but surely he will start at Wembley in such a big game? The problem for Chelsea is, if he goes missing again then in all likelihood so does Chelsea's chance of winning the trophy.

Of course, they are far from a one-man team and have Christian Pulisic, who has scored two goals and got two assists in five previous appearances against Liverpool, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech - to name three - who can hurt the Reds. Also, the possible return from injury of attacking full-back Reece James would be a major boost on the day if Tuchel takes a risk and throws him back in immediately after his recent return to training following injury.

Strikers could settle it

But it's hard to get away from the fact we have, in the red corner, a dynamic attacking unit who are brimming with goals at the minute up against, in the blue corner, a team who are misfiring where it matters most - up front.

Both teams are good defensively - Liverpool keeping four clean sheets in their last five games, compared to three for Chelsea across the same period, so it seems obvious to suggest it's the respective forwards who will have the biggest say over where this final will be settled.

Liverpool are 13/10 to win in the 90 minutes, 9/4 to lose and 11/5 to draw against the Blues.

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