Paul Merson says Chelsea have huge advantage over Liverpool with ‘fantastic’ Reds ace ruled out

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Paul Merson beleives Chelsea have a huge advantage over Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final at Wembley due to the fact Curtis Jones has been ruled out of the game with a sprained ankle.

The Scouser missed Wednesday night’s victory over Luton after picking up the injury against Brentford at the weekend and Pep Lijnders has confirmed the Scouser may not return to action until next month’s international break.

The Academy graduate has been in superb form for the Reds this season – nailing down a regular starting spot in midfield with his impressive offensive ability while also making significant improvements to the defensive side of his game.

Our No.17 has registered five goals and three assists so far this term (across all competitions) and Merson believes his absence on Sunday will be felt by Jurgen Klopp’s side.

“I’m more confident for Chelsea’s chances than I was after the Liverpool game when they lost 4-1 at Anfield in January,” Merson told Sky Sports (via Metro).

“It all depends on who is fit for Liverpool – if Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez and Curtis Jones are fit, it is a different story. If they aren’t fit, I think it is a heads-or-tails football match.

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“If they are fit, especially Salah, and Curtis Jones – he is playing well and brings out the best in Alexis Mac Allister because he has the legs in the team – that would just swing it Liverpool’s way.

“But if they don’t play, it is a funny old game, football. Three or four weeks ago, you are thinking Chelsea don’t have much chance after being blown away at Anfield.

“Now all of a sudden, Chelsea are playing half-decent at the right time. Second half at Palace, they did well and at Man City the other day. For me, they are just playing well at the right time and I think they have a good balance.

“If Curtis Jones isn’t fit, then I think Chelsea win that midfield battle.”

In his press conference earlier today Lijnders confirmed it’s a race against time regarding the fitness of Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez ahead of Sunday’s final.

The pair were absent from the squad for our defeat of Luton but there’s hope that that decision was purely precautionary with our trip to the capital approaching.

Jones, who was labelled as a ‘fantastic’ player by Jordan Henderson previously (via Metro), brings a lot of energy to our midfield and there’s no doubt that before his injury he was enjoying his most successful run in the side since he made his debut for the club back in 2019.

With Dominik Szoboszlai also unlikely to be fit for our clash with Chelsea it’s likely that our midfield trio will consist of Wataru Endo, Alexis Mac Allister and Ryan Gravenberch.

All three performed well against the Hatters earlier this week but against Mauricio Pochettino’s side at Wembley it’s going to be a completely different game.

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