Saturday 8th November – 12:45 – Anfield
Liverpool welcome Chelsea to Anfield on Saturday with Brendan Rodgers in need of positive result to prevent any pressure growing on him. All eyes will be on Rodgers after taking the bold decision to rest his top stars against Real Madrid in midweek with the clash with Chelsea in mind. They lost that game 1-0, whilst Chelsea also slipped up in the Champions League, drawing 1-1 away to Slovenian side Maribor, with Eden Hazard missing a penalty late on. In the league, Liverpool have six points fewer than at this stage last season and have picked up just two wins from their last seven league outings. Meanwhile, Chelsea remain the only unbeaten side in the Premier League this season and they have scored double the amount of goals as Liverpool so far this term. The Blues have lost just one of their last six league and cup games against Liverpool with Rodgers yet to taste victory against his former employers. With Premier League football once again taking a break for a couple of weeks after this weekend, these two teams will want to end on a winning note before players go off with their respective countries. If The Reds end on a losing note, the calls for Rodgers to face the sack will be heard even louder in Merseyside.
The Key Battle: Steven Gerrard vs Cesc Fabregas
These two are both vitally important players for their team and should be key to deciding the game’s winners on Saturday.
Gerrard was rested by Brendan Rodgers in the mid-week and will most likely be raring to go when the match kicks off to prove that resting him should never be an option.
On a personal level, the Reds skipper will have to get his slip in this fixture last season out of his mind before kick-off, otherwise he may well have a shaky game in the middle of the park.
Fabregas on the other hand will be trying to shake off doubts over his ability to perform when pressurised on the ball and his ability to defend, both which were raised during the Maribor draw.
The two players have met plenty of times before in Fabregas’ Arsenal days and will be no strangers to the other’s style of play. There were some feisty clashes between the two players back then with a Champions League quarter-final in 2008 immediately springing to mind.
- Captain Steven Gerrard is set to start after beginning on the substitutes’ bench against Real Madrid.
- Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli could also earn recalls after being left out of Brendan Rodgers’ experimental side in Spain.
- Daniel Sturridge, who has been out of action since the start of September, will again miss out against his former club as he recovers from a calf problem. Jose Enrique, Mamadou Sakho, Jon Flanagan and Suso also all remain on the sidelines for the home side.
- Jose Mourinho also rested key players in midweek, so Oscar, Gary Cahill and Thibaut Courtois are all set to return to the starting line-up tomorrow lunchtime
- Striker Diego Costa will also return to start for the visitors despite being left out of the Spain squad to recover from his persistent hamstring trouble.
- Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta is available again after serving a three-match ban following his sending off against Crystal Palace and he is expected to replace Filipe Luis at left-back.
Liverpool wins = 70 / Chelsea wins = 55 / Draws = 35
Last Meeting: Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea (27th April 2014)
Chelsea blew open the race for last season’s Premier League title by ending then-leaders Liverpool’s 11-game winning streak with a deserved victory at Anfield. Demba Ba gave the Blues the lead at the end of the first half after Steven Gerrard’s comical slip and Willian capped the win with a breakaway goal in stoppage time at the end of the game. The result ended Liverpool’s 16-match unbeaten streak that had seen them march to the top of the table and means the title is no longer in their control. It proved to be the beginning of the end of the Reds’ title hopes and fans have been talking about what could have been ever since.
Stat of the Match
Mario Balotelli has now gone 689 minutes since his last goal in the Premier League. His last strike came almost two years in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic.
Where can I watch it?
With the game being a 12:45pm Saturday lunchtime kick-off, in order to catch the game live, tune into BT Sport 1 from midday. Match of the Day on BBC One will show the highlights, and it starts on Saturday evening at the later than normal time of 11pm.
My Prediction: Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea have scored exactly two goals in each of their last three games against Liverpool, and I expect them to do so again and with no reply. Jose Mourinho’s side have been on fire this season, and should overcome their midweek blip to beat a shaky Liverpool team. I’m going with goals from Branislav Ivanovic and Diego Costa as the Blues continue their unbeaten run in 2014-15.