On Tuesday Night, two of the best sides in the league Liverpool and Chelsea face each other at Anfield in what could be a pivotal game in the title race.
The wheels have come off for Liverpool in 2017 – the Reds have lost thrice on the bounce in three different competitions at Anfield following an year of invincibility and are at a crossroads this season. Having suffered a double elimination from the cup competitions, winning the league or finishing in the Champions League places has become the sole objective for the remainder of the season – and anything but a win against the league leaders will be a poor result at home where they need to make the most of their performances. With Jurgen Klopp under serious pressure for the first time in a long while to get maximum points, it will be a test of mental strength and a barometer of how far they have come under the effervescent German.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are the league’s most consistent side and deservedly at the top. The Blues are on a four game winning run after suffering their first defeat in three months to Tottenham Hotspur – which includes ensuring qualification to the fifth round of the FA Cup. They have conceded only one goal in those four games scoring a total of 13. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea have only lost thrice in the competition and one of those loses came against Tuesday’s opponents at Stamford Bridge. A win at Anfield will strengthen their bid for a second title in three years and serve as the catalyst for the next crunch fixture against second-placed Arsenal.
Full-back Nathaniel Clyne is a slight doubt ahead of the visit of Chelsea as he is still recovering from his rib injury while midfielder Adam Lallana is expected to face a fitness test after the England international suffered a knock in the defeat to Wolverhampton in the FA Cup.
Chelsea have a clean bill of health ahead of their long trip to the North West. They are expected to field an unchanged line-up from the win against Hull City in the Premier League.
- This will be the 70th competitive meeting between these clubs since the Premier League’s inception; the most-played fixture between two professional English clubs in this period.
- Liverpool will be looking to do the double over Chelsea for the first Premier League season since 2011/12.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four Premier League trips to Anfield (W2 D2 L0), last losing there in May 2012.
- Of players to have made 20+ Premier League appearances, Diego Costa has scored in the highest proportion of matches (55.4% – 41/74).
Key Men Comparison
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) v Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Not only the best players in their respective sides, Coutinho and Hazard are perhaps two of the best play-makers in the league who are enjoying very productive campaigns.
Phillipe Coutinho has made his comeback after an injury layoff and been eased into the squad by Jurgen Klopp. Having scored in big games in the past and in particular against Chelsea, the Brazilian will be upbeat to stamp his mark on an important night at Anfield in a way to celebrate his signing of a new five year contract. Liverpool will need to go back to doing what they did best i.e attack with freedom and constantly switch positions in the attacking areas let the 24-year old work his magic on the ball.
Hazard, alongside Costa, has been vitally significant for Chelsea’s strong and consistent showing in the Premier League. After a disappointing last season under Mourinho, Eden Hazard picked himself up in the back end of 2015/16 and has rediscovered his usual level under Antonio Conte. The new found freedom in the role – on the left hand side of the front three has given him the mojo back and he will need to carry that into Anfield and test an unsure Liverpool defence to give themselves a good chance of beating one of the best sides in the country.
The Reds are clearly struggling and this is a make or break game for Jurgen Klopp this campaign in terms of title aspirations. A loss would potentially see them in a tussle for fourth spot with the two Manchester clubs. Chelsea seem to have recovered well since their last defeat and are keeping the ball rolling with a robust defence. Blues to shade this one.
Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea