The most anticipated Premier League clash of the weekend comes our way on Sunday from Anfield, when leaders Liverpool host top four hopefuls Chelsea.
Liverpool will be aiming to keep hold of their top spot in the Premier League standings, when they face off against rivals Chelsea at home on Sunday evening.
Liverpool have a two-point lead over second-placed Manchester City, but could lose their spot before they take the field, with Pep Guardiola’s side set to play Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday. Should the champions win their match, Liverpool cannot afford to drop points. On the other hand, if City end up dropping points, the Reds will have a great chance of extending their lead at the top.
Last time Liverpool were in action in the Premier League, they came back from a goal down to beat Southampton 3-1 away from home, following which they defeated FC Porto 2-0 in their Champions League quarter-final first-leg earlier in the week. Currently on a 15-match unbeaten run in all competitions, Jurgen Klopp’s side will take some stopping.
Chelsea started the week in third place, but have slipped down to the fourth spot heading into their game, with Tottenham Hotspur winning their match against Huddersfield Town on Saturday. With Arsenal and Manchester United lurking behind them in the table, Maurizio Sarri’s men will be aiming to strengthen their grip on the fourth spot with a win.
Chelsea come into the game on a four-game winning streak in all competitions, with their most recent game ending in a 1-0 win over Slavia Praha in the Last Eight stage of the Europa League. The Blues have faced Liverpool twice this season, winning once (Carabao Cup) and drawing the other fixture. They will back themselves to come away with a positive result from Anfield.
Team News & Tactics
Left-back Andrew Robertson, who missed the midweek game in Europe due to suspension, will be available for selection here. Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum have minor problems that they are expected to shake off and be ready for action. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still not ready to return to first-team football, while Adam Lallana is also set to miss out.
No change is expected in goal, where Alisson has continued to build on a strong debut campaign. Joel Matip is expected to return at the heart of the defence, in place of Dejan Lovren, while Robertson will resume his duties at left-back. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk are certain starters.
Captain Jordan Henderson produced a fine display in a slightly advanced role against Porto and should hold on to his place in the side. Fabinho has made the No. 6 slot his own and is unlikely to be left out either, leaving James Milner, Wijnaldum and Naby Keita fighting for the third spot in the middle. However, the Guinean’s recent goal-scoring form should tilt the balance in his favour.
No rotations are expected in the final third for Liverpool, with the terrific trio of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Mane all set to feature from kick-off.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Chelsea manager Sarri has very little to worry on the injury front, with only youngster Ethan Ampadu unavailable for the upcoming match. Having rung in the changes for the midweek tie against Slavia Praha, the Italian is expected to field his strongest side against the Reds on Sunday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is the undisputed first-choice between the sticks for the Blues, but there will be changes in the backline in front of him. Emerson Palmieri and David Luiz are expected to return to the lineup, at the expense of Marcos Alonso and Andreas Christensen respectively, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger holding on to their spots.
There will a couple of changes in the midfield as well, with N’Golo Kante set to return into the team after sitting out the midweek game, along with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been in brilliant form in the past couple of matches. Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic will make way. Jorginho will start at the base of the three-man midfield.
Eden Hazard should be back into the starting XI after making a brief appearance from the bench on Thursday night. On the opposite side, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian will be vying for a spot, but the youngster should get the nod, after being rested in the midweek.
The big question on Sarri’s mind though will be who to pick between Gonzalo Higuain and Olivier Giroud as the striker. The latter, however, should be getting the nod, as he is much more effective in linking up play with his attacking partners.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Hazard
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.80
2. Chelsea Asian Handicap +1.0 @ 1.725
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 4.20
- Liverpool haven’t won any of their last six Premier League games at Anfield against Chelsea (D4 L2); the Reds have never endured a longer winless home run against an opponent in the competition.
- Chelsea have only lost twice in their last 16 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions (W6 D8), though both of those defeats came at Stamford Bridge. The Blues’ last defeat at Anfield came back in May 2012 in the Premier League (1-4).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 37 Premier League games at Anfield – only once in their top-flight history have they had a longer unbeaten home run (63 between Feb 1978-Dec 1980).
- Chelsea have already won away at Liverpool this season, beating them 2-1 in the Carabao Cup. They’ve never won twice at Anfield within the same season, with Arsenal in 2006-07 the last side to do so against Liverpool.
- Chelsea have lost their last five Premier League away games against fellow ‘Big Six’ opponents, including all three this season by an aggregate score of 1-11. However, the Blues have won three of their last four away league games against sides starting the day top, including a 2-0 victory at Anfield in April 2014.
Player to Watch
The Belgian international is enjoying his most prolific campaign in the Premier League for Chelsea, since arriving at the club from Lille back in 2012. Hazard, so far in the English top-flight this season, has been directly involved in 28 goals (16 goals, 12 assists) – the most by any player in the competition.
The 28-year-old comes into the game on the back of a good run of form, having netted thrice in his last two Premier League outings, while setting up a goal as well. In 16 matches against Liverpool, Hazard has scored seven goals, including twice this season – the most he has scored against a single opposition. He will need to be firing on all cylinders, if Chelsea are to come away with a win.
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Liverpool are chasing their first league title in 29 years and will be under immense pressure to not drop any points. More so in this fixture, given that it was the game against Chelsea, one made famous by Steven Gerrard’s slip, that triggered the collapse in their title hunt back in the 2013-14 season.
But, the fact that they haven’t lost even once since their FA Cup defeat to Wolves and are unbeaten in their last 37 Premier League matches at home should fill them with plenty of confidence.
Chelsea’s recent form, however, means things will be anything but straightforward for Liverpool. The Blues have won four in a row in all competitions now, have already beaten their opponents once at Anfield this season in a cup game and are unbeaten in their previous eight matches in Liverpool’s backyard.
However, Maurizio Sarri’s men too will be feeling the heat as the race for the top four intensifies. With Tottenham and Manchester United both winning their matches on Saturday, Chelsea cannot afford a slip-up at this point either.
It promises to be a tightly-contested encounter between two of the best teams in the Premier League, both of whom will be under pressure to deliver. Four of the last five meetings between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield have ended in a 1-1 draw and that is how the encounter on Sunday is likely to finish.