Liverpool V Chelsea FA Cup Final Preview
This is it then. This is the big one.
Lose and the Carling Cup victory will be scant consolation for a wretched season of missed chances and woodwork hitting.
Win and the season will have been a comparative success. Two trophy's won, qualification for the Europa League and the knowledge that we surely cannot do any worse next season will make up for the disappointment of not putting up any sort of a fight for a top four place.
For Chelsea fans the unlikely prospect of an FA Cup final and Champions League Cup final double is on the cards.
That would truly be some achievement, beating Barcelona along the way. How would Ambramovich view Di Matteo then?
The change in Chelsea's fortunes since Di Matteo has been nothing short of astounding. If you think Matteo is doing well then how awful must AVB have been?
The players must have hated his methods and the man himself to play so poorly. Their defensive display against Barcelona was full of steely resolve, made even better by the unexpected removal of the first choice defensive pairing.
Cahill doing a hamstring and Terry doing Sanchez.
What was not so long ago a leaky sieve has become a defensive rock and Liverpool's shot shy midfield will do well to get shots on target.
The focus of this game is going to be on the strikers.
The rejuvenated Torres, fresh from his champions league walk around the keeper and then following that up with a hat trick against QPR has found his scoring touch just when Reds fans would have least wanted it to happen.
A player of his ability cannot morph from a red hot scoring machine into a lifeless shell of the player he once was without good reason. What would that reason be? Who knows?
I thought that he would have loved working with Dalglish. He clearly was not happy with the way things were turning out at Liverpool with the boardroom strife and then the disastrous Hodgson reign but to go when the King returned was a bitter blow.
In his last few games in a red shirt Torres was clearly moping and unhappy. He was bought by Benitez and now that the Liverpool franchise was being torn apart by infighting and the calamitous mis-management of that idiotic Texan pair of jokers he was in a place where he didn't want to be and it showed.
Moving to Chelsea Torres just seemed to fall apart in front of our eyes. Ancelotti lost faith in him and AVB didn't play him so it was no surprise that he lost his touch and his form suffered.
Now that Di Matteo is in charge Torres has suddenly started to look like the £50 million player we know he is. His finishing is deadly and Skrtel and Agger will have to bring their A game to prevent him wreaking destruction on the Reds defence. Against QPR his confidence seemed to return with every stride and he began to look the real deal.
That is very bad news for Liverpool supporters. We all know what usually happens when top players are sold to rivals. Could this be the time when Torres sticks it to us?
I hope not. We idolised him in a red shirt and it would be a cruel twist of fate.
Drogba is always a menace when he plays against anyone let alone Liverpool. He always produces his best performances in the big games and if he is paired with Torres from the start then they could decimate any defence in the world.
Will we see the posturing, play acting Drogba who falls down at the slightest touch or the powerful running Drogba who out muscles defenders and gives them nightmares?
It will be the latter you can be sure of that.
In Liverpool's favour is a very solid defensive pairing of the aforementioned Agger and Skrtel whose job will be to stop them. If you had to pick any central defensive pairing then these two are the best in the league.
Putting aside Liverpool's woes for a moment these two have given opponents the least shots on goal and their defensive record is only bettered by United and City.
For Liverpool Luis Suarez is a slippery eel and showed exactly what he can do with a stunning hat trick against Norwich. He will need to bring that precise finishing to the game on Saturday to beat Cech and that is something that hasn't been present all season.
His goals though will fill him up with confidence and he will bring his best game on Saturday and put the rest of the season behind him.
And so we come to the £35 Million man. Which Andy Carroll will turn up?
The one who stands on the periphery of the action and spends the game falling over?
Or the one who bursts into the box with devastating effect and out muscles the defenders, rising above them and directing into the side netting?
It is the second one we want to see of course. Buoyed up with his winning goal against Everton Carroll is the player most likely to change the outcome of the game – either by being left on the fringes of the game or being in the heat of the battle.
In midfield we want to see performances of the season from Downing and Henderson and let's hope Craig Bellamy has saved the best for last and puts in a good showing.
And of course Steven Gerrard. So often the match winner in the big games can he produce the goods again in one more final?
A few weeks ago I would have been quietly confident that Liverpool would win this game and take a second trophy. But Torres returning to form just at the wrong time has put the fear in me.
I have seen him turn defenders inside out so many times and step away with pace to burn and he is the one player that I would swap a red shirt for.
And last but not least we have the Dalglish factor.
When Dalglish took over I told my son that "good things will happen".
Dalglish is a lucky manager and sometimes you need more luck than skill in sporting contests.
Just ask Chelsea about that one.
Of course the rule is that you don't bet on your own team so that you don't cloud your judgement with emotion so for this game I am betting on Chelsea to win and hoping I lose my money.