Chelsea VS Liverpool : Match Preview
Liverpool and Luis Suarez, the Premier League’s top scorer, face Chelsea for the first time since the star striker picked up a ten-match ban for biting Blues defender Branislav Ivanovic in April.
Far from being billed as Jaws 2, this encounter will be a serious test of both sides’ title credentials as they sit next to one another in the top four. Chelsea have won only one of their last five meetings with the Reds at Stamford Bridge to boot.
This pits Blues boss Jose Mourinho against protégé Brendan Rodgers for the first time in Premier League history, and the Special One stirred the pot when he suggested Liverpool could become champions.
Chelsea have not been finishing teams off in recent weeks. Their last five wins in all competitions have all come by the odd goal. Compelling evidence of Blues profligacy is indifferent form – a Capital One Cup quarter final loss at Sunderland, a bore draw against Arsenal and edging past Swansea on Boxing Day.
Rodgers’s Reds saw their run of four successive and impressive victories come to an end on Thursday when Manchester City came from behind at the Etihad. Suarez, for all his controversy, has 19 goals in a dozen Premier League games and will be the main danger.
Mourinho will rotate the Chelsea squad once again for this home game. England pair Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard should return alongside Spanish pair Cesar Azpilicueta and Fernando Torres, who faces his former club.
Blues midfielder Ramires serves a ban after picking up a fifth domestic booking last time out. Club captain John Terry is likely to make his 600th appearance, but fellow defenders Ashley Cole and David Luiz should drop to the bench.
Liverpool are definitely missing skipper Steven Gerrard and striker Daniel Sturridge whilst fullback Jose Enrique remains out. Rodgers could keep faith with the same XI that started the Manchester City defeat as Jon Flanagan is still doubtful with a hamstring problem.
On-loan Reds winger Victor Moses is ineligible against his parent club, so Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho will continue in the wide positions.
Chelsea: 1 Petr Cech, 2 Branislav Ivanovic, 24 Gary Cahill, 26 John Terry, 28 Cesar Azpilicueta, 12 John Obi Mikel, 8 Frank Lampard, 14 Andre Schurrle, 11 Oscar, 17 Eden Hazard, 9 Fernando Torres 4-2-3-1
Liverpool: 22 Simon Mignolet, 2 Glen Johnson, 37 Martin Skrtel, 17 Mamadou Sakho, 20 Aly Cissokho, 21 Lucas Leiva, 24 Joe Allen, 31 Raheem Sterling, 14 Jordan Henderson, 10 Philippe Coutinho, 7 Luis Suarez 4-2-3-1