The Hard Tackle lists three players who can make a positive impact when Chelsea and Liverpool clash in the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

The first major English trophy of the 2023/24 season will be up for grabs on Sunday afternoon at the Wembley Stadium. Chelsea and Liverpool will lock horns in London, with both teams going through different crises as they look to lift the EFL Cup.

For Chelsea, it has been a crisis of identity for nearly two years following the Todd Boehly-led takeover. The Blues have signed dozens of players in the last few transfer windows without seemingly having a game plan. So, it is hardly surprising that they have struggled for relevance in the Premier League. But the EFL Cup presents an opportunity to lift a trophy and restore the feel-good factor at Stamford Bridge.

As for Liverpool, the Reds have been excellent thus far this season. They are in contention to win all four competitions they are a part of and give a glowing farewell to Jurgen Klopp. But an injury crisis has engulfed the Merseyside club in the last few weeks, with several pivotal figures catching the injury bug.

So, Chelsea and Liverpool must overcome different issues when they meet at Wembley on Sunday. But before the EFL Cup final kicks off shortly, The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the proceedings in London.

Conor Bradley

It might be strange to see a defender kicking things off in such a list, especially in a knockout game. But Conor Bradley can make a big impact when Liverpool and Chelsea lock horns at Wembley in the EFL Cup final.

The 20-year-old has burst onto the scene this season due to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fitness issues. The English international has had two spells on the sidelines, enabling Bradley to secure regular game time during those stints.

The young full-back has grabbed his opportunities with both hands this season, delivering the goods in most of his outings. He has an excellent tally of one goal and five assists in 11 outings thus far this term. So, he has arguably been more productive than even Alexander-Arnold.

So, with Alexander-Arnold unavailable for the Carabao Cup final, Bradley should be the most creative outlet for Liverpool on Sunday. Expect the 20-year-old to rise to the occasion and stamp his authority for the umpteenth time this season.

Conor Gallagher

Our list moves into the midfield and will end with two midfielders, thus making it a rare “three key players” feature without a striker. First up, we talk about Conor Gallagher, who has been the unsung hero for Chelsea this season.

While Cole Palmer has taken the plaudits — and rightly so — for his heroics in the final third, Conor Gallagher has done the hard yards to get his team into the game in stick situations. That will again be the case when Chelsea and Liverpool meet in the EFL Cup final.

Gallagher has not let the speculation surrounding his future affect him at any stage of the 2023/24 season. Tottenham Hotspur will look to secure his services in the summer transfer window. But the Englishman is not thinking about any of that as we approach the business end of the campaign.

Gallagher’s late ghosting runs into the final third and work rate on and off the ball will hold the key for Chelsea. That will bring Palmer, Raheem Sterling, and Nicolas Jackson into the picture, freeing them up to thrive in the final third.

Harvey Elliott

Cody Gakpo was a candidate for the final spot, considering he has big shoes to fill in Darwin Nunez’s absence. But we have gone ahead with Harvey Elliott, who will deputise for Mohamed Salah on the right flank unless the Liverpool talisman is fit to start on Sunday.

The youngster has been excellent in the last few weeks, compelling Jurgen Klopp to hand him more game time. He has two goals and three assists in just 656 minutes of action in the Premier League thus far this term.

That Elliott has started only four Premier League games this season is bewildering, considering he can reprise roles in the midfield and the final third. The 20-year-old lived up to the billing earlier this week by scoring in the 4-1 win over Luton Town.

Elliott tends to pull the strings irrespective of his position on the pitch. He will look to link up with Conor Bradley on the right-hand side to bring Luis Diaz and Gakpo into the picture. But the Englishman will also come into the equation from the edge of the Chelsea box, from where he can unleash fiery shots.

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