Joleon Lescott column: My ultimate FA Cup final XI
I’m expecting a very close encounter when Chelsea and Liverpool do battle in the FA Cup final.
The Blues were desperately unlucky not to lift the Carabao Cup in February, with wasteful finishing and some agonising offside calls proving costly.
Jurgen Klopp’s men triumphed on that occasion but the West Londoners are clearly very capable of derailing their Quadruple bid at Wembley.
Even though the Reds probably possess better individuals, Chelsea’s style of play under Thomas Tuchel seems to cause them real problems.
They’re more than happy to soak up pressure and play quick, incisive passes into areas the Liverpool backline don’t want to go, exploiting the space in behind to perfection.
Sides are always going to need to ride their luck against this fantastic Liverpool outfit but chances will come for Tuchel's side — they just need to take them.
Although Liverpool may be starting to feel the pinch of a long season, they won’t struggle to rise to the occasion.
Ahead of the clash, I’ve had a go at picking a combined XI from the two sides. See what you think!
Goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool)
This was a tricky one because Edouard Mendy is also a classy operator but I have to go with Alisson.
His calming presence behind Liverpool’s back four has been just as key to their recent successes as Virgil van Dijk.
Right wing-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
I’m a huge Reece James fan but I’ve found a way to incorporate both young English talents in my side.
Going forward, I cannot think of a more dangerous wing-back than Trent. He’s so technically gifted and a joy to watch.
Centre-back: Reece James (Chelsea)
Reece’s remarkable versatility has been on show in recent weeks and he’s very comfortable operating in a back three.
His performance at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid was sublime and I really do think he’s one of England’s most gifted players.
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
What more can you say about Van Dijk? He’s got to be one of the most impactful signings in Premier League history.
Having suffered a similar injury to the one he’s recovered from, it’s great to see him back to his best.
Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Antonio Rudiger has been a rock during Tuchel’s time at Chelsea and they’re going to have a very hard time replacing him this summer.
They must regret not getting him tied down sooner because finding a replacement of sufficient standard could prove very expensive.
Left wing-back: Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
For all of Trent’s flair, Andy Robertson is just so reliable on the opposite flank and the Scot is a player I always enjoy watching.
He also seems to have a fantastic bond with the Reds faithful, which will see him go down as a cult hero for years to come.
Central midfield: Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool)
I was tempted to pick Mason Mount here but I have to edge towards Thiago, who is finally showing English football fans what he can do.
His passing range is outrageous and he can run rings around the opposition when he’s allowed to dictate a game.
Central midfield: Fabinho (Liverpool)
He’ll miss this clash through injury but Fabinho’s dependable performances screening the Liverpool backline have been fantastic this term.
The Brazilian has got better and better since his 2018 arrival and I’m sure they’d love to have him back fit for the Champions League final.
Right wing: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Another man who gets into any XI, Mohamed Salah will hope to rediscover his scoring boots for Liverpool’s crucial final few games.
His consistency over the last few seasons is almost unrivalled and you just can’t leave the Egyptian out.
Striker: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
I was expecting big things from Romelu Lukaku this season but we all know about his struggles, so Sadio Mane leads the line.
Mane has found himself shuffled into the centre recently and always does a fine job for his manager.
Left wing: Luis Diaz (Liverpool)
I knew Luis Diaz was a top player when Liverpool picked him up but his impact has been nothing short of phenomenal.
To already be popping up with match-winning contributions in such pivotal games bodes very well for his future.
Joleon Lescott was talking to Matthew Hill