Liverpool vs Chelsea has history. It’s almost 5 years to the day since Steven Gerrard’s epic Anfield slip that allowed Demba Ba to score and dash their Premier League title dream. Could lightning strike twice for Liverpool on Sunday afternoon?
Jürgen Klopp’s side aren’t letting things slip this time. While their title rivals Manchester City cruised past Fulham and Cardiff City, Liverpool had to fight hard to beat Tottenham and Southampton. But beat them they did to stay top of the table with 5 games to go. Now, they face their last Top Six test of the Premier League season: Liverpool vs Chelsea. After this, it’s ‘just’ Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Wolves. If they win here at Anfield, the Liverpool fans can really dare to dream again.
Chelsea are tricky opponents to predict, however. On the one hand, The Blues have already lost away at Arsenal, Bournemouth and Everton this year, and they haven’t won a league match at Anfield since 2014. But on the other hand, Maurizio Sarri’s team are currently on a run of 4 wins in a row and their attackers are finding top form: Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and, most importantly, Eden Hazard. Plus, Chelsea also have a habit of tripping up title challengers; Liverpool in 2014, Tottenham in 2016…and Liverpool again in 2019?
There are no major injury concerns for Liverpool vs Chelsea, but fitness may be an issue for the away team. While Liverpool played at home in the Champions League on Tuesday, Chelsea had to travel to the Czech Republic in the Europa League on Thursday. The timing is so tight that Sarri’s side have flown straight to Liverpool, rather than back to London. However, it’s worth noting that Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kanté and David Luiz were all on the bench for the Slavia Prague game.
Has Klopp finally found a midfield three that can attack as well as defend? With Fabinho staying deep in the holding role, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keïta are both getting forward to great effect. They’ve contributed 3 goals and 1 assist in Liverpool’s last 2 matches. Midfield creativity has been one of the main things missing for The Reds this season. Problem solved?
And for Chelsea too? With his late winner against Cardiff, Loftus-Cheek earned a starting spot alongside Jorginho and Kanté. So far, the results speak for themselves - 1 goal and 2 assists in 2 starts. If he can stay fit, Loftus-Cheek is exactly what Chelsea need – a powerful midfield runner with real attacking instinct. And, of course, it helps that he’s one of their own.
Player to Watch: Jordan Henderson
Has Henderson been saving his best form for the final weeks of the season? Or has he just been waiting for Klopp to let him off the leash to attack? Either way, Henderson was a super sub against Southampton and a key player against Porto. The team will need their inspirational leader for Liverpool vs Chelsea, just as long as he doesn’t ‘do a Gerrard’…