Chelsea head to Anfield this evening looking for their first Premier League win against Liverpool since November 2014.
The Blues have really struggled against Liverpool in recent fixtures and will undoubtedly be aware of the danger this match poses. That said, Chelsea have actually fared worse in their home games against Jurgen Klopp’s men then they have at Anfield. 1-1 has been the final score in the last two Anfield Premier League meetings between these two, and the Londoners haven’t lost away at Liverpool since May 2012.
Antonio Conte will be hoping his team can go one better than avoiding defeat today though with both sides in great need of three points. Currently three points ahead of Liverpool, Chelsea remain a point behind second placed Manchester United and well behind leaders Manchester City meaning only wins will be enough to keep the already slim-looking chances of title retention alive.
Klopp’s Liverpool are known for the incredible speed they possess in attack with ex-Chelsea man Mohamed Salah their key threat and current Premier League leading scorer. Regardless of the three consecutive clean sheets the Blues have now managed in the league, the hosts will be confident of scoring today, yet with their defence far weaker than their ability to get forward, we can expect their to be plenty of goals at both ends of the pitch this evening.
After managing to rotate a few players in a comfortable win over Qarabag in Baku on Wednesday, Chelsea have been handed another boost in the form of Victor Moses being ready to return to the squad for this clash. Question marks remain over the fitness of Michy Batshuayi, though Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata are both fit to start at Anfield with Conte expected to return to his 3-5-2 formation for this one despite playing 3-4-3 in Azerbaijan. Kenedy and Musonda remain sidelined.
Meanwhile, Liverpool could also have some important players return for this one, as Joel Matip and Adam Lallana have both been recovering well ahead of tonight’s game according to Klopp. Emre Can is expected to miss out after sustaining a muscular problem in Liverpool’s dramatic draw with Sevilla in midweek, though the Reds have plenty of central midfield options regardless.
Chelsea are likely to revert to their back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill after the trio’s recent solidity, with N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko providing a strong central midfield base behind Cesc Fabregas. The 3-5-2 has served Chelsea well so far this season but Conte’s men will understandably struggle to cope with the pace Liverpool have in their team.
If the Blues can get through the opening ten minute burst that both Liverpool and the home crowd will launch, just as they have done in recent trips to Anfield, then the game will likely become slower and easier to control. The forward paring of Hazard and Morata will undoubtedy create chances meaning this game will be won and lost depending on how well the back line can deal with Salah and co.
Chelsea’s best chance of success is to keep things tight and not over-commit when going forward in order to eliminate Liverpool’s greatest strength which is counter-attacking. That said, I expect the hosts to manage a goal at some point and the game to be relatively open as a result. There’ll be plenty of chances in this one and I think the most likely result is a draw.