Tuesday 20th Jan, 2015, 19:45 GMT
Liverpool and Chelsea go head-to-head in the League Cup semi-final, with Brendan Rodgers hoping his team’s upturn in form continues. He will be hopeful Liverpool continue their recent resurgence in Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea. Rodgers found himself under increased scrutiny at Anfield following an indifferent start to the season. However, Liverpool have now lost just one of their last 14 games in all competitions and are unbeaten in eight following their defeat at Manchester United in mid-December. Immediately after that loss at Old Trafford, Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-1 in the League Cup quarter-finals – setting up a semi-final tie with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. The Liverpool boss was delighted after Saturday’s 2-0 win at Aston Villa, but knows there is still room for improvement ahead of Chelsea’s visit to Anfield on Tuesday.
Chelsea, who beat Derby County in the last round, have been looking imperious for much of the campaign. Jose Mourinho’s side have scored 51 goals in their 22 top-flight fixtures so far this season – 20 more than eighth-placed Liverpool – and hammered Swansea City 5-0 away on Saturday. Chelsea also have fond recent memories of going to Anfield, having won 2-1 there in November just six months after all-but ending Liverpool’s 2013-14 Premier League title dreams with a famous 2-0 victory.
Team news and tactical brief
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard is likely to be restored to the starting XI after missing Saturday’s win at Villa, with Glen Johnson and Adam Lallana also approaching full fitness. Liverpool, after an inconsistent start to the season have been enjoying some positive form of late.Since their 3-0 defeat away at rivals Manchester United on December 14th, Rodgers’ men have gone eight games unbeaten in all competitions, six of which they have won.
Captain Steven Gerrard was left out of the weekend’s 2-0 win away at Aston Villa, but he is expected to return to the side for the visit of the West Londoners. The veteran, who is heading for the MLS, could well take up the more advanced role that he has been deployed in recently. Fabio Borini may have scored at Villa, but he could drop out for this encounter, with Raheem Sterling featuring as a lone striker.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-4-2-1):Jones(GK); Can, Sakho, Skrtel; Moreno, Lucas, Henderson, Markovic; Gerrard, Coutinho; Sterling
Having blitzed Swansea City with a five-goal salvo on Saturday that cemented their position as Premier League title favourites, Chelsea’s pursuit of silverware takes them to Anfield, where they face Liverpool in the first leg of an eagerly anticipated Capital One Cup semifinal tie. Mourinho’s players were on top against Swansea, and supporters will be hoping for more of the same against Liverpool knowing a good result against Brendan Rodgers’ team on Merseyside will balance the tie in Chelsea’s favour for the return leg at Stamford Bridge. The prize for an aggregate victory is a trip to Wembley at the beginning of March and an opportunity for Mourinho to secure his first trophy for Chelsea since returning to the Bridge in June 2013. The great news for Chelsea fans is the fact that the Capital One Cup, and indeed all cup competitions in which Chelsea participate in while Mourinho is in charge, are taken very seriously. He may have a squad of world-class players to call on and a group of talented youngsters to supplement them, but analysis of his starting XI’s highlight the importance to the Portuguese of always fielding a side that is gunning for a victory.
Against Swansea, Mourinho fielded the strongest, most experienced side available to him. Petr Cech and Filipe Luis were more than capable deputies for Thibaut Courtois and the injured Cesar Azpilicueta, while Gary Cahill was restored to the centre of defence at the expense of young Kurt Zouma. Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar, Willian, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa completed the team and, despite the Premier League showdown with Manchester City looming four days later, minimal rotation can be expected at Anfield. Zouma could return to the team, and Andre Schurrle, who enjoyed a goal-scoring 15 minutes cameo against Swansea, may be promoted from the substitutes’ bench, other than that it would be a great surprise if Mourinho shuffled his pack significantly. Cesar Azpilicueta and Didier Drogba missed the win over Swansea with a groin injury and illness, respectively, but both could be in with a chance of playing here. Kurt Zouma may come back in for Gary Cahill.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1):Cech(GK); Luis, Zouma, Terry, Ivanovic; Fabregas, Matic; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa
Jose Mourinho’s Record Against Liverpool In Cup Competitions
Played: 9; Won: 2 (League Cup final in February 2005, Champions League semi-final first leg in April 2007)
Drawn: 3 (Champions League semi-final first leg in April 2007, Champions League group stage in September 2007, and December 2007)
Lost: 4 (Champions League semi-final second leg in May 2007, FA Cup semi-final in April 2006, Charity Shield in August 2007, Champions League semi-final second leg in April 2007)
Players to Watch Out For
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s man on Tuesday night could be Raheem Sterling, fresh from a battery charging break in Jamaica and 85 minutes against Villa on Saturday. Sterling’s movement is arguably unparalleled in the Liverpool squad, and will likely be highlighted as one of the Reds’ most important players by Mourinho. Rodgers must use this to his advantage, and utilise Sterling’s pace and dangerous movement to occupy Matic and drag him out of position.
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Some questioned the £32m Jose Mourinho paid Atletico Madrid but Costa has been on fire. Strong, uncompromising and with an eye for goal, Mourinho sees him as the complete striker. Diego Costa’s brace in the weekend took his personal contribution to 17 in 19 League appearances.
Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea
Liverpool host Chelsea in the first leg of the first Capital One Cup semi finals, with a place at stake in a final against either Tottenham or Sheffield United. Both teams come into this match high on confidence, with Liverpool having won 6 and lost none of their last 8 matches in all competitions and Chelsea having just trounced Swansea by 5 goals to nil at the weekend. Each team will put a strong team out for both legs and fatigue could play a part. Chelsea have a good record against Liverpool and have won their last 2 trips to Anfield; they will be favorites to win but Liverpool should have enough to take the tie to Stamford Bridge level.
Blast From the Past
Liverpool advanced to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup with a 2-0 win against a disappointing Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge in 2011.