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Liverpool return to Wembley with their sights set on a cup double, while victory for Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final could be the first stage of a more significant success.

Kenny Dalglish’s side lifted the Carling Cup at the home of English football back in February with a tense penalty shoot-out success against Championship side Cardiff.

But while the Reds have emerged as the knockout specialists this term, their Premier League form has been vastly below expectations and they are currently 16 points adrift of the top four and a staggering 34 off the summit.

That has led to rumblings of discontent among sections of the Merseyside faithful, with an on-going debate over whether lifting the FA Cup for the first time since 2006 to sit alongside the League Cup in the Anfield trophy room would mark this campaign as a success.

Such conjecture only serves to reinforce Dalglish’s assertion earlier this week that Premier League placings have become ‘an obsession’ for many teams because of the financial rewards on offer for the clubs who qualify for the Champions League.

And for Chelsea to ensure that they compete among Europe’s elite for a 10th successive season, then the most realistic route is for them to qualify as winners by defeating Bayern Munich on 19th May at the Allianz Arena.

Wednesday night’s home defeat at the hands of Newcastle means Roberto Di Matteo’s side are now four points adrift of the Magpies and fourth-placed Tottenham with just two games remaining, with their interim manager admitting that door to Europe now appears locked.

But such has been the upturn in fortunes at Stamford Bridge under their former midfield favourite, who scored the fastest goal in FA Cup final history in the 1997 triumph against Middlesbrough, few will be critical of the Italian even if the Blues finish the season empty-handed.

Appointed on an interim basis until the end of the season following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas in early March, Di Matteo has galvanised a squad who looked bereft of confidence and direction, with their place in the UEFA Champions League final secured with a memorable triumph over Barcelona.

Both teams go into the showpiece on the back of midweek defeats, but Dalglish and Di Matteo opted to make a significant number of changes for their respective home reverses at the hands of Fulham and Newcastle.

Key men Pepe Reina, Steven Gerrard and Luiz Suarez were just three of nine changes for the lacklustre setback against the Cottagers and are certain to take their place in the starting XI this weekend.

Andy Carroll, the Reds’ semi-final hero after his late winner against Everton, played the full 90 minutes in midweek having missed the resounding success against Norwich with a slight injury concern and should partner Suarez.

Di Matteo’s selection policy with the Champions League final on the horizon is eased somewhat with John Terry, Ramires, Raul Meireles and Branislav Ivanovic all ruled out of the Munich meeting through suspension, so that quartet can expect to start on Saturday.

David Luiz and Gary Cahill, who missed training on Friday, have not featured since suffering respective hamstring injuries against Tottenham and Barcelona, and with the duo required on 19th May due to the aforementioned absentees it appears certain Di Matteo will not to rush them back into action.

Fernando Torres hit a hat-trick against QPR and also started the midweek clash with Newcastle, but is likely to be back on the bench with Didier Drogba often regarded as the man for the big occasion, with the Ivory Coast international having scored seven goals in seven Wembley outings in the FA Cup and League Cup.

Possible starting XIs:

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Ramires, Meireles, Mata, Drogba, Sturridge.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Downing, Henderson, Gerrard, Spearing, Carroll, Suarez.

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