I've hesitated to take this one on. Like the match is too big, with too much of my fan self wrapped up into the outcome which, the more I allow myself to dwell on it, seems inevitably tragic.
This has not been a good season of Liverpool football. Rarely do I afford myself the luxury of speaking such obvious truths here at the Deeg (actually, I do it all the time, I'm sure), but it bears mentioning at the outset since I always tend towards hyperbolic love poems when I talk about LFC and its players who I still love too much. Sports boners aside, the season has shown us that the club really does need another striker, that Steven Gerrard might be on his last legs, that there is absolutely no quality depth in the midfield or within the center of the defense, and that half of last summer's signings may have been little more than a complete and utter waste.
On top of that, and this is a real kick in the balls, the team is at real risk of finishing below their Merseyside counterparts at Goodison Park despite having thoroughly trounced Everton in the two league fixtures this year (not to mention the FA Cup semifinal win). Not that I can be bothered to find out, but I'm pretty sure it's been a while since the Blues were atop the Reds in the table at season's end. And even if that doesn't really matter in the end - Everton's place in the table arguably says more about them than it does about Liverpool, after all - any fan of LFC knows that the team's league failures (including a fucking loss to Roy Hodgson's team AT ANFIELD.... fuck me...) this season tell a troubling story of a club that was supposed to be on its way up and was supposed to compete for, at the very least, a Top 4 finish.
None of that is happening anymore, that much is clear.
What is unclear, though, is which Liverpool side will show up this Saturday at Wembley and, perhaps more crucially, whether Liverpool's best play can realistically match up with a Chelsea team that has found its best form following the departure of fired manager Andre Villas-Boas. Last weekend's stellar defeat of Norwich City suggests that Liverpool might have found a recipe for success, while this Tuesday's loss to Fulham, even with many starters being rested, suggests that the Reds are still searching for that deep and pervasive desire for goal. Based on the season-long comparisons between Liverpool's play in Cup matches, where they've succeeded and appeared to be a top side, and League matches, where they've looked ready for relegation some weeks, it's not crazy to assume that Liverpool will find another gear and play their best football against Chelsea.
Though - and here is where I tend towards freaking out - will it be enough to prevail over a team that has reached the Champions League final (beating the world's best player along the way) and who sport some of the better striker talent in the EPL?
I've never been one for making predictions, though the cynic in me is looking towards tomorrow with a palpable sense of dread. To be fair, of course, this is pretty much par for the course when it comes to big games and any team that has the misfortune of counting me as a supporter. Either way, despite the frustrations of this season, both on and off the pitch, if Liverpool do manage to pull out a victory, this season will suddenly be transformed into a successful one - two Cup victories overshadowing the League failures and the allegations of racism and the sacked Director of Football and the lingering doubts (ridiculous ones, I think) about whether Kenny Dalglish is suited for his position as manager. In a sport where - by virtue of the lack of playoff format in the league - so much depends on cumulative success of a club over several months, the story of Liverpool's 2011-12 campaign will be largely decided by tomorrow's outcome, leaving fans in the lurch between excitement and fear over what will be go down in London.
Which leaves me with little else to say as I count the hours between now and tomorrow's kickoff. If the good Liverpool shows up, we could all be in for a match of a lifetime. If the bad one hits the pitch, it could be over before it even starts. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be gnawing at my fingernails and praying to the footy gods for just a bit more magic before this season's end.