Liverpool vs Chelsea
English Premier League
Date: Sunday 21st April 2013; Kick-Off: 16:00 GMT
Date: Sunday 21st April 2013; Kick-Off: 16:00 GMT
The fight for the top four finish continues as Chelsea travels to Merseyside to take on Liverpool in a Super Sunday clash. With six games left in this season's English Premier League; Chelsea along with Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton (Yes!! Everton have creeped into the top four scuffle, due to their current good run of form) continue their fight to finish in top 4 to ensure qualification in next season's UEFA Champions League.
This game marks the return of ex-managers and players across both clubs. Fernando Torres and Rafa Benitez mark their return to Anfield, both of whom were once one of the dear ones for Liverpool and their faithful fans. Benitez though is still very much liked by the Kops but its hard to believe Torres will receive the same warm reception.
Brendon Rodgers is also well known to Chelsea supporters when he managed Chelsea's youth and reserve sides and learned well under the watchful eye of Jose Mourinho. Glen Johnson and Daniel Sturridge (Ex-Chelsea players) and Benayoun (ex-Liverpool player) who form part of the associated players involved with both clubs.
Liverpool vs Chelsea - Match Preview
We are currently sitting 3rd in the EPL table, one point ahead of Arsenal (who have played an extra game), two points ahead of Tottenham (same number of games as Chelsea) and five points ahead of Everton (who also have played an extra game). Arsenal who play Fulham away on Saturday could climb to third spot if they were to win at the Craven Cottage. Tottenham host Manchester City on Sunday but theirs is an early kick-off, so by the time our game against Liverpool kicks-off we will have a good idea of where our competitors would stand in the EPL table. Yes there are many permutations and combinations possible but its a little too early to get into those mathematics of football.
I have already mentioned about our current position in the table and what we stand to achieve or lose with every win and loss. But speaking for Liverpool its really hard to say what they will achieve. They currently sit 7th in the table with 50 points of 33 games, six points behind 6th place Everton and six points ahead of 8th place West Brom. Considering the immense rivalry between the arch enemies, Liverpool would be having only one goal in mind, that is to finish above Everton.
Next season's Europa League is pretty much confirmed for Liverpool (unless they fall like a pack of cards in their next five games). Liverpool's season has pretty much been the same, always start as hot favorites to win the League but as time goes by and reality sinks in, its a top four finish is what is being targeted and by the time the EPL campaign nears its end, the criteria changes, that is to beat Everton in the points table.
Chelsea came out good in their last game against Fulham with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Craven Cottage, all three goals came from centre-backs. A stunner from David Luiz plus a headed brace from John Terry gave us only our second away victory of 2013. The goals tally for Chelsea defenders in all competitions this season now stands at 27 with seven for Branislav Ivanovic, six each for Terry and Gary Cahill, David Luiz with five, Ryan Bertrand two and Ashley Cole one. Liverpool on the other hand had to endure two successive 0-0 draws against West Ham at home and Reading way.
The obvious focus of attention will be "FERNANDO TORRES- The MASK MAN" who makes only his second return to Anfield since his £50 million to Chelsea. And also Rafa Benitez, who spent six years at Anfield and was very much liked by the Liverpool fans during his time at Anfield.
Torres is one of the in-form players for Chelsea and would definitely be looking to continue his goal scoring prowess at Anfield which in itself will be a massive confidence booster. There will be jeers and boos from the Liverpool fans and they would try everything in their books to unsettle Torres.
Back to the match between Liverpool and Chelsea - Well last season when Chelsea came to Anfield they had a harrowing time as they were beaten 4-1, but in the last 10 meetings (in all competitions) between the two sides its been all even with both sides winning four each with two draws. In the reverse fixture this season when Liverpool visited Stamford Bridge the game ended in a 1-1 draw with Suarez scoring the equalizer after John terry had headed Chelsea in front. Liverpool are looking to extend their unbeaten Premier League run against Chelsea to six games
The man Chelsea should watch out for is Luiz Suarez who heads this season's goals tally with 22 goals. He along with Coutinho are the in-form players for Liverpool. The likes of Luiz, Terry and Ivanovic will need to be on their toes if they have to stop these two players.
Chelsea on the other hand will be looking at their own midfield trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar to deliver the goods for Chelsea. With Benitez's rotation policy its difficult to say whether he will pick Ba or Torres for this one. Well whatever the side, this promises to be one cracker of a game at Anfield. Both teams will be going all out for a win, given whats in store for them if they win this tie.
Chelsea welcome back Ashely Cole (hamstring) and Gary Cahill (knee), both of whom returned to training. Cole could get a start with Cahill on bench but final decision on Cole will be taken as late as Sunday. Marko Marin also is nearing to full recovery and could be on the bench for Chelsea. Romeu (knee) is the only long term absentee for Benitez who would again look to rotate the squad to ensure player fitness.
Liverpool remain without Fabio Borini (shoulder), Joe Allen (shoulder) and Martin Kelly (knee), who are all ruled out for the rest of the season. Raheem Sterling (thigh) faces a late fitness test after missing Liverpool's last two games.
Watch this space for latest team line-ups
Player and Manager Talk
John Terry ahead of the game against Liverpool
On Champions League Qualification and upcoming fixtures
"It's a must for the football club; for the supporters, for the club moving forward and maybe new signings in the summer, we're obviously in the semi-finals of the Europa League but realistically we want to be playing Champions League football, that's what it's about for this football club. The players that have come here in the last couple of years, that's what they want as well."
"It's a tough run-in and it starts with Liverpool away at the weekend, and we face Manchester United away a couple of weeks after that. It's a busy schedule because we play on a Thursday [in the Europa League] and I think we have about four games in 10 days or something like that, but we've got the squad, the manager's rotating and everybody's playing a part."
On Liverpool Manager Brendon Rodgers
"He's a great manager and was brilliant for myself and the other players, I can only speak highly of him, when Jose Mourinho was here he was always around. There were a couple of occasions when I was left out of the side or injured and he'd pull me to one side. He made a nice little video of me scoring goals, making tackles and had a 15-20 minute chat."
"At the time it was something nobody had ever done, and it just goes to show his man-management skills. Little things like that, as a player, give you a boost when you're down, and he was a real gentleman as well. He fed off Jose and learnt an awful lot, but you could see he always had it in him to go on. He had a great rapport with the players around the training ground on a daily basis and he speaks different languages which obviously helped."
On Fixture pile-up
"For us as a group of players, when the games are coming thick and fast I think that's when we're at our best, it is a lot of games, but when you're playing you don't really get a chance to think about anything else. You don't train too much, so you lose that side of it, which you can then put into the games."
"It's difficult to balance, but from my point of view I prefer to play two or three games a week, otherwise you get long, drawn out weeks and you end up doing a couple of days of running and feel just as tired."[source: chelseafc.com]
Again a tough one to call! On current form Chelsea look strong but win against Fulham was just our 2nd away win of 2013 so this is definitely not a walk-in-the-park. Liverpool have played two goalless draws in their last couple of games, so this tells me defense of both sides will be hard to breakdown. But the attacking force on both sides is much more capable of doing the damage.
Scoreline: Liverpool 1 Chelsea 3
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My starting line up
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