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FA Cup final: How to unpick the Liverpool lock – and why Chelsea will fear Luis Diaz

In Tuchel’s system, James is there to provide width from right-wing back as his touch map at a recent game at Manchester United shows. This was Alexander-Arnold’s role too when he first broke into the Liverpool team, but his positioning is now more complex. His touchmap in the draw with Tottenham shows a player frequently receiving the ball in areas which we might expect from an attacking midfielder.

Opponents have their work cut out tracking Liverpool’s rotation down their right. Alexander-Arnold sometimes overlaps Mohamed Salah, at others he is inside while Jordan Henderson stands at right-back while at other times Salah holds his width for one of Henderson or Alexander-Arnold to run into the box. Klopp will identify Marcos Alonso as a potential weakness.

Will Luis Diaz expose Cesar Azpilicueta?

Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the best defenders in the county for close to a decade and one of Chelsea’s best signings in modern times, but has endured a rough few weeks.

With numerous defensive pieces moving around him and his future uncertain, Azpilicueta has been uncharacteristically vulnerable. His loose pass led to Arsenal’s third goal at Stamford Bridge last month, before he conceded a late penalty and had an altercation with a Chelsea fan in the stands. The Spaniard also lost possession in the build-up to Richarlison’s winning goal for Everton against Chelsea.

Despite the fact Chelsea have the security of a back three, Liverpool’s narrow front three means these defenders are still likely to face one-on-one battles. The thought of Azplicueta coming up against Luis Diaz’s quick changes of direction will worry Chelsea fans. In the 2020 FA Cup final, Azpilicueta was targeted by Arsenal with balls over the top for Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang in the left channel and pulled his hamstring after 26 minutes.

Tuchel could elect to put Azpilicueta at wing-back, where he played in the Carabao Cup final, and move James into the back three for extra mobility. Trevoh Chalobah is also an option, starting in this position at Leeds on Wednesday.

Coping with missing midfielders

Both teams suffered injury blows this week with Fabinho pulling his hamstring and Mateo Kovacic rated unlikely to recover from Dan James’ diabolical challenge.

Fabinho is a master at winning second balls in midfield, protecting his two centre-backs and allowing Klopp to push numbers forward. Fabinho has won possession in the middle third 131 times this Premier League season, more times than any Liverpool player. He has made more interceptions than any Liverpool midfielder while Thiago Alcantara is the only midfielder to win more tackles.

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