31st October 2015; 0845 BST
When Liverpool FC travel to Stamford Bridge, they will have the onus of proving to their new manager Jurgen Klopp that they’re ready to stake a claim as a permanent fixture in the top four. Just what Chelsea’s players will have to prove to Mourinho, is anybody’s guess.
The Portuguese master tactician truly believes his side are giving him a 100%. With rumors of dressing room squabbles with some of the big names in the side, Mourinho has lost his sheen and then some. The Bridge will hold no fear for Liverpool, who will take courage from the fact more than a couple of lower-ranked teams have come and gone away with more than a point this season.
Jose Mourinho will return to the dugout, but if the past few weeks are any indication, his presence might only complicate matters for the Blues. Chelsea’s under-performing stars need to get on with their jobs, and having a ranting, raving Mourinho on the sidelines playing for the cameras is not going to help their concentration one bit.
Team news and tactics
Chelsea have struggled to draw some positives from their losses to West Ham and Stoke City. Mourinho’s ardent belief that his players are giving him their best, is perhaps the most depressing thought for True Blues around the world.
The pall of gloom surrounding the club has failed to lift, and even the promising likes of Pedro wait out their careers on Chelsea’s bench. The return of the mercurial Matic will help Mourinho bolster his midfield, but it remains to be seen if Cesc Fabregas will get a run out on the field.
Chelsea seemed a slightly better proposition without him against Stoke City, and the impressive showing of Kenedy warrants another chance for the youngster. The strongest line-up the Blues could field would revolve around a Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Matic axis in the middle of the park with Oscar, Willian and Pedro ahead of them and Diego Costa as the one striker up front.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Begovic (GK); Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Zouma; Loftus-Cheek, Matic; Pedro, Oscar, Willian; Costa
Liverpool have the edge in midfield, especially with James Milner back in the sideline after having served a suspension that did the Kopites’ campaign no favor. Liverpool will be content to let Chelsea grab the bulk of possession, and instead rely on Lallana and Coutinho to hit the Blues on the counter.
Chelsea may regret not going all in for Belgian striker Christian Benteke, when Aston Villa dug their heels in, but the rampaging front-man will pose the Blues’ suspect back-line more than its fair share of problems. Liverpool will also bring Simon Mignolet back between the goalposts, and that experience will come in handy when Chelsea line-up for a free-kick or corner.
The Reds have the edge on the physical front considering the Chelsea line has been decimated on the phsysical front, with years of preferring smaller, lither players. Expect Skrtel to get stuck in with Diego Costa, and there is always a potential for fireworks when these two stars butt heads.
Possible lineup (4-3-2-1): Mignolet (GK); Gomez, Sakho, Skrtel, Clyne; Can, Lucas, Milner; Lallana, Coutinho; Benteke
Player to watch out for:
Christian Benteke (Liverpool FC)
This game will be decided by one of the front-men of either team, and with Diego Costa likely playing with a strapped chest after a suspected rib injury and increasingly prone to take out his game-related frustrations by lashing out at anyone near him, expect the more level-headed Benteke to exercise the greater influence on the game.
Benteke has the added incentive of showing Mourinho what he missed out on signing, in a deal that was initially Chelsea’s for the taking. With Klopp looking on, and Benteke having had an uncharacteristically quiet season, the Belgian might just be waiting to shake off the cobwebs on hallowed ground.
- Chelsea have won just one game in their last five outings.
- Prior to Liverpool’s latest win, the Reds managed 5 consecutive draws
- In their last 5 meetings, Chelsea and Liverpool have scored fewer than 3 goals
Chelsea 1 a 2 Liverpool FC
The chances of a Chelsea win at home are negligible. Liverpool will race to a 2-0 lead, courtesy brilliantly executed shots from Lallana and Benteke. Chelsea will strike back late in the second half, and that will spark renewed hope at Stamford Bridge only to fizzle out as Klopp makes telling substitutions to grind the Blues to a stalemate. Mourinho may not lose his job as a result of this seemingly inevitable loss, but it will do his image under Roman Abramovich no favors.