Eight things Klopp and Tuchel got right and wrong as Liverpool lift FA Cup

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Liverpool have won the FA Cup for the first time under Jurgen Klopp after beating Chelsea 6-5 in a tense penalty shootout in the final at Wembley.

The previous three meetings this season had all ended in draws in 90 minutes, showing the fine margins between the two sides. And it proved again after chances at both end, with Luis Diaz, Andy Robertson and Marcos Alonso hitting the woodwork, with none of them able to find the back of the net in regulation time.

As fatigue settled in and some bizarre substitutions took place, both sides settled for another penalty shootout but there was no sign of Kepa Arrizabalaga this time. Mason Mount saw his penalty saved by Alisson Becker and that proved to be crucial as Kostas Tsimikas proved to be the unlikely hero. Daily Star Sport assesses the eight things Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel got right and wrong after an absorbing final at Wembley.

What Klopp got right

Picking Diaz for James duel

The difficulty with having five capable attackers for three positions is that Klopp had to leave one out, and Diogo Jota was the unlucky loser in that conversation. Instead, Diaz was chosen to take on Reece James in one of the most highly-anticipated battles of this encounter — and it didn’t fail to deliver.

The Colombian saw so much of the ball in the early parts of the game he could probably memorise its design patterns. Every time he created an opportunity, Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah looked frightened at the prospect of touching him. His run in behind the latter, met by an exquisite Trent Alexander-Arnold pass, should have led to a goal but for a fine save from Edouard Mendy.

Choosing speed over craft was undoubtedly the right call, given James’ intelligence but lack of pace in a straight line. It also prevented the wing-back from getting forward as much as he would like, allowing Liverpool to control the game and look dangerous when pressing forward in numbers. And Diaz came so close to winning it late on as his strike hit the post, underlining the threat he provides.

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Positive tactics

As soon as referee Craig Pawson blew the whistle to kick off this final, Liverpool moved into gear. There would be no bedding in period for Chelsea to get comfortable — right from the off, Liverpool chased and hustled in the final third.

Inspired by the relentless Luis Diaz, Liverpool attacked in numbers and Jurgen Klopp will be scratching the top of his club shop baseball cap wondering how on earth his side did not take one of their early chances.

It was a perfect example of how Liverpool play with their unique high tempo and direct football, which Klopp calls “heavy metal”. Quite simply, Chelsea weren’t prepared for the noise as Diaz, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane toyed with their back five in the first 15 minutes of the game. And in all honesty, if Liverpool were to win three or even four trophies this season playing this way, it will be tremendously enjoyable to observe.

What Klopp got wrong

Salah’s unnecessary risk

Mohamed Salah has been looking forward to the moment he could face Real Madrid for four years with a chance for revenge after that infamous Sergio Ramos challenge. But the Egyptian’s chances of featuring could be in doubt after his 33rd-minute substitution at Wembley.

Salah pulled up with an injury problem and it was serious enough to force him off as he was replaced by Diogo Jota. The 29-year-old had a quiet game up until that point but a player of Salah’s quality, and with 31 goals in all competitions this season, can score at any moment. But for Jurgen Klopp, with five forwards fit and ready to start, he could have potentially left his star man on the bench.

That injury could put his rematch with Real under threat with the Champions League final only two weeks away. Hindsight is golden, and few could blame Klopp for wanting to field his best XI, but if his half-hour outing in the FA Cup final costs him another Champions League final appearance, he will be devastated.

What Tuchel got right

Doubling up

For all of his wonderful attributes as a creator, Trent Alexander-Arnold still has some improvements to make to become a world-class defensive player too. Tuchel recognised that, choosing to overload the right-back with Marcos Alonso and Christian Pulisic, giving Chelsea some much-needed joy down the left flank.

There was one moment in particular where the tactic nearly paid dividends. Pulisic slid in a pass into Alonso’s path and the Spaniard’s loose touch just took it away from him before Alisson Becker smothered the shot. Alexander-Arnold switched off just for a second and that’s all it took to get in behind as Alonso timed his run perfectly.

As the half went on, Chelsea focused their moves down the left side and it was surely no coincidence, but the Blues failed to take full advantage of the full-back’s concentration lapses. Only Pulisic's failure to put away one of his several chances gave the right-back a chance to save his blushes.

Pulisic repays faith

There’s something about playing against Liverpool which allows Christian Pulisic to extract his best levels from himself. After scoring in the 2-2 draw and UEFA Super Cup in 2020, the American enjoys the occasion when playing the Reds. And it was no different here as the 23-year-old proved to be the main danger for Klopp’s side, playing as Lukaku’s strike partner.

Only a matter of inches prevented the winger from opening the scoring after meeting Mason Mount’s cutback in the first half. Then, just after the interval, he was found by Alonso inside the penalty area but struck straight at Alisson. Some might have been surprised to see Pulisic start ahead of Timo Werner given the German’s upturn in form, but the player dubbed ‘Captain America’ certainly led by example when given his chance.

What Tuchel got wrong

Bizarre substitutions

Quite what Tuchel had in mind when he made his substitutions in extra time, only the Chelsea coach knows. Instead of sending on Timo Werner, he summoned Ruben Loftus-Cheek and captain Cesar Azpilicueta to replace Pulisic and Chalobah. Just 14 minutes after being brought on and deployed as a centre forward, Loftus-Cheek was hooked, this time for Ross Barkley, who hadn’t featured in any competition since December.

An incredible call, but perhaps one with the penalty shootout in mind, as Werner and Arrizabalaga sat crestfallen on the bench. Barkley did score, but Chelsea fans would have been baffled watching from home and in the stadium – and after another narrow penalty shootout defeat, it is only fair to say it backfired for the Chelsea manager.

Kovacic fit but not firing

Mateo Kovacic’s inclusion in the starting XI arrived as a boost for Blues fans and even left Jurgen Klopp surprised. But the Croatian’s last-ditch attempts to get fit for the final ultimately proved unhelpful to his side as he struggled to get a hold on the game.

The midfielder made a remarkable recovery to get back for the game just four days after being injured in a horror challenge from Daniel James against Leeds. However, there was a noticeable lack of energy that Kovacic usually produces and it left Jorginho with too much to do against the Liverpool midfield trio of Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita.

Starting Ruben Loftus-Cheek, a player who has worked his way into Tuchel’s plans of late with a series of impressive cameos, would have surely given Chelsea more steel in the engine room. Tuchel admitted it was a risk to start the 28-year-old, and unfortunately for Chelsea, his minimal impact proved it didn’t pay off.

Chalobah’s torrid time

It seemed almost cruel to pit 22-year-old Chalobah against the wickedly tricky Diaz while also having Mane running into his channel. And the centre-back, who has been mostly impressive this season, endured a difficult first half.

Diaz was given acres of space to attack from the left and Chalobah, lacking support from Reece James, struggled to cope. Only when James was pulled back by his manager did the pressure relent somewhat, but it affected the youngster’s confidence for the rest of the game as Diaz looked dangerous every time he got on the ball.

The only alternative would have been to start Andreas Christensen, who has struggled in recent times against Liverpool. If anything, this final has only further underlined Chelsea’s need for reinforcements this summer to add more quality to the backline.

  • Chelsea FC
  • Liverpool FC
  • FA Cup
  • Jurgen Klopp
  • Thomas Tuchel

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