Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher says rivalry with Chelsea still exists

 

Defender Jamie Carragher thinks the intensity of the rivalry between Liverpool and Chelsea has faded slightly in recent years but that will not prevent a fierce FA Cup final battle tomorrow.

From the middle part of the last decade there has been a glut of encounters between the two sides and tomorrow's will be the 31st since the start of the 2004-05 season - and there is then a league match to follow on Tuesday.

The League Cup final of 2005 saw an increase in hostilities when Jose Mourinho's infamous finger to the lips gesture incensed Reds fans as their side lost 3-2.

Liverpool got their revenge with a Champions League semi-final victory at Anfield, although Mourinho still complains about Luis Garcia's 'ghost' goal.

The subsequent familiarity - this will be their third meeting this season with Kenny Dalglish's side having been victorious in the Carling Cup at Stamford Bridge - may have lessened the impact somewhat.

But that does not mean their Wembley clash will be any less of an occasion, according to Carragher.

"It (the rivalry) started six or seven years ago for different reasons," said the 34-year-old.

"It is still a big rivalry but I think it had more to it then.

"Maybe Mr Mourinho had something to do with it.

"We seemed to be playing them four or five times a season.

"They are a great side and have had great players. We respect them and I am sure they respect us."

Only Carragher and Steven Gerrard remain from Liverpool's team from the 2005 League Cup final while Chelsea still have Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

Carragher can recall some epic personal tussles with Drogba.

"Me and Drogba, Stevie and Lampard, have had some great battles over the years," he added.

"There have been some great memories from those games.

"But you never know who they will pick; Drogba or Fernando Torres - two world class strikers."

Liverpool have already played at Wembley twice this season with their semi-final win over Everton coming after a Carling Cup triumph over Cardiff.

However, the veteran Reds centre-back does not believe that will make much difference as Chelsea are playing in their fourth final in six years.

"I don't think the Carling Cup final gives us that much of an advantage," he said.

"They have a great record of playing at Wembley in last few years.

"There is a lot of excitement and we are looking forward to it.

"An FA Cup final does not come around too often and there is always a buzz in cup final week."

PA

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