Chelsea host Liverpool in the return leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final and are favourites to make the final after a good result at Anfield last week.
Both Chelsea and Liverpool had disappointing results in their respective FA Cup games, but it was Jose Mourinho who was left fuming more than Brendan Rodgers as Chelsea lost to League one side Bradford. Liverpool dominated against Bolton, but could only settle for a draw after an inspired performance by Bogdan denied them a straight entry into the fifth round.
Brendan Rodgers has deployed a 3-4-2-1 system since December and it has paid off as his side are unbeaten since December 14th in all competitions. The trio of Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Emre Can have done well in defence as has Lucas in front of them. The introduction of Lucas has seen Steven Gerrard play in a slightly attacking role and he could have had a goal in the first leg but saw his shot glaze the post instead.
Liverpool full backs unsettled the Chelsea backline as well with Alberto Moreno being very adventurous. The Spaniard often found himself in the final third but was let down by some erratic passing. Jordan Henderson will have a key role to play as he is someone who doesn’t really have a fixed position. The Liverpool vice-captain had a good game last time and will have to be at his best once again if Chelsea play with Cesc Fabregas and Oscar. Adam Lallana and
Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho played behind Raheem Sterling in the attacking third and the trio’s pace and skills on the ball did trouble Chelsea. It’s likely that Rodgers will stick with them as pace is something that Chelsea can be troubled with. What will play into Liverpool’s hands from an attacking sense will be the presence of Cesc Fabregas who is more attack minded than Obi Mikel. Fabregas isn’t a natural defensive player like Mikel which could make it easier for the Liverpool front three than last week when Chelsea went with Matic and Mikel as the two holding midfielders. However, Fabregas’ addition could mean that Gerrard will have to play a deeper role with Lucas as the double pivot in order to neutralise the impeccable Chelsea midfield and attack.
Probable lineup: Mignolet; Can, Sakho, Skrtel; Moreno, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson; Lallana, Coutinho; Sterling
After a humbling at the hands of Bradford, Chelsea will be hurting and desperate to get back to winning ways. The defeat to Bradford was their first in Cup competitions this season.
Manager Jose Mourinho revealed in is pre-match press conference that Liverpool playing with three at the back will suit his side as they’ll have a lot of free space. It’s likely that Mourinho will go with his best XI despite a clash with Manchester City coming up in the weekend. Gary Cahill and John Terry had a good game against Liverpool but could be exposed by the Merseysiders pace upfront as they did at Anfield. The absence of Mikel might be a key factor as Liverpool will find it easier to penetrate. However, Fabregas’ presence will add that quality of passing from deep areas that the Blues sorely missed at Anfield. The game was open, but Chelsea failed to capitalise as they did not have a good playmaker in the deep positions.
Oscar will play behind Diego Costa and will provide the link up play for Eden Hazard and Willian on the wings. The Liverpool defence wasn’t tested enough at Anfield, but the story could be different when they play at Stamford Bridge. Emre Can did not look comfortable when Hazard made that one run into the box which led to a penalty. The German will be very busy tonight considering Chelsea be playing at home and will have the bulk of the possession. Diego Costa had a quiet game considering his standards and will want to lift his game at home.
Probable lineup: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic; Fabregas, Matic; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa
- Mourinho side have beaten Liverpool only twice in cup competitions. Played: 10; Won: 2, Drawn: 4, Lost: 3 (League Cup final in February 2005, Champions League semi-final first leg in April 2007)
- Liverpool are yet to lose a game in domestic Cup competitions.
- Liverpool and Chelsea have met six times previously in the League Cup, with the Reds winning three and the Blues two and one being a draw (last game)
Despite Chelsea being favourites, it’s Liverpool who are in better form. The Reds have been solid defensively, which isn’t something that one would associate with them. However, they have to score a goal if they are to progress which could leave them open to Chelsea’s counter attacks which are good by the way.
Full time score: Chelsea 3-1 Liverpool