Saturday 31st October – 12:45 – Stamford Bridge
Jose Mourinho will be hoping for a much-needed victory when Chelsea host Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday. The Blues have won just one of their last seven matches in all competitions and there has been speculation in the English written media concerning Mourinho’s position ahead their match against the Reds. This was increased even further after his side lost to Stoke City on penalties in the League Cup in midweek, which followed a 2-1 defeat at West Ham last weekend. Liverpool meanwhile are unbeaten under new boss Jurgen Klopp, and picked up their first win under the German with a 1-0 League Cup win over Bournemouth on Wednesday thanks to Nathaniel Clyne’s first goal for the club. Klopp and Mourinho have met once before when they were at Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid respectively, with Dortmund eliminating the Spanish side from the Champions League in 2012-13. Could a similar result this lunchtime see Mourinho sacked?
- Striker Diego Costa will be assessed pre-match, and could play despite hurting his ribs in the midweek League Cup exit at Stoke.
- If the Spaniard can’t play, Radamel Falcao or Loic Remy will come in, or perhaps even youngster Bertrand Traore.
- Pedro will be monitored after returning to training, while Nemanja Matic is back from a ban, but Branislav Ivanovic (hamstring) and Thibaut Courtois (knee) remain out.
- Christian Benteke returns to Liverpool’s squad after being rested for the Capital One Cup victory over Bournemouth because of a knee niggle, but has since trained and will go back into the side.
- Defender Kolo Toure is out with a hamstring injury sustained in midweek, while James Milner returns from suspension.
- Jordan Henderson (foot), Joe Gomez, Danny Ings and Jon Flanagan (all knee) remain sidelined.
The Key Battle: John Terry vs Christian Benteke
Jurgen Klopp hasn’t had much luck with strikers since his appointment earlier this month but hopes to call upon Christian Benteke on Saturday after his midweek absence against Bournemouth.
In theory, Benteke represents the kind of striker John Terry should prefer to play against, as a target man who tries to win flick ons or hold up the ball rather than test the space in behind defences. If the Chelsea skipper is partnered by the equally physically phenomenal Kurt Zouma, he should be set for a reasonably comfortable afternoon.
Yet, recent results suggest the 34 year-old could well struggle, even against the type of centre-forward that accommodates his lack of pace and preference to challenge in the air.
West Brom’s Salomon Rondon, West Ham’s Andy Carroll, Southampton’s Graziano Pelle and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, all target men measuring above 6 foot 2, have all caused huge problems for the Chelsea backline this season with Terry at its heart. Benteke is an arguably superior No.9 to all of them.
Fitness is still a concern for the 6 foot 3 Belgium international, however, and that could prevent him from playing at full velocity. [Football Fancast]
Chelsea wins = 57 / Liverpool wins = 70 / Draws = 37
*According to http://www.lfconline.com
Last Meeting: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool (Sunday 10th May 2015)
Liverpool’s faint hopes of Champions League qualification were all but ended by their failure to win at Chelsea. The Reds produced a spirited display against a Blues side lacking any real cutting edge without striker Diego Costa, but could not find a winner. John Terry’s header put the champions into the lead, but Steven Gerrard equalised when he nodded in at the far post on the stroke of half-time. Liverpool had the better chances to win and Philippe Coutinho twice went close. [BBC]
Jose Mourinho: “It’s a bit strange because a few months ago when I won so many matches and I was champion of England, people were saying there were things more important than the results. In this moment the results are more important than anything. It’s a contradiction.”
Jurgen Klopp: “Do the Chelsea players not know any more how to play football? No, of course not. I am not sure it is easier to play Chelsea now than last year – why should it be? Okay, being full of self-confidence maybe makes some things different, but to be wounded can make you stronger too. They don’t feel life is as good as it could be and now they want to change it and that is big motivation.”
The Referee – Mark Clattenburg
- Last Premier League game: Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City (25th October 2015) – 4 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Chelsea game: West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Chelsea (23rd August 2015) – 3 yellow cards, 1 red card
- Last Liverpool game: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester City (1st March 2015) – 4 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Stat of the Match
Chelsea’s tally of 11 points from 10 games represents their worst start to a Premier League season, and equals the poorest by the defending Premier League champions (matching Blackburn’s tally in 1995-96).
Where can I watch it?
The game will be live on BT Sport 1 from midday, with kick-off 45 minutes later. Alternatively, highlights will be on Match of the Day at 10:25pm on BBC One this evening.
My Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
Can Mourinho fire his troops up when he really needs them to perform? I think yes, but not enough to grab a win against a Liverpool side solidified by Jurgen Klopp, but who also are struggling to actually take three points from games. For that reason, I can only see a draw at the end of this game. I think that Willian and Christian Benteke will score in a feisty 1-1.