It is a fixture that always catches the eye, but this time the upcoming Europa League final is the top priority for Liverpool as they take on a Chelsea side that can finish no higher than the ninth place they currently occupy.
The showdown with Sevilla is just a week away for the hosts, who won for the first time in three Premier League matches at the weekend by seeing off the competitive challenge of Watford. There was little to separate the sides on the day except that little bit of superior quality in front of goal, with Joe Allen profiting from midfield alongside a multitude of promising youngsters who have benefitted greatly from the club’s exploits in Europe this season.
Credit also has to go to manager Jurgen Klopp for giving them the chance and showing repeated faith in their ability. Kevin Stewart has always looked tidy in the midfield, Sheyi Ojo is a player with promising technique and considerable pace, while Connor Randall has slotted in capably in his full-back role. They are likely to get another chance here as Liverpool aim to do the double over the Blues for the first time since the 2011-12 season – and finally get one over on Guus Hiddink.
For the Dutchman it was very much a case of coming up against a fired up side with plenty more to play for as they were turned over by Sunderland on Saturday despite taking the lead twice. A full strength starting XI attacked with promise and a cutting edge, but did not cope too well with their opponent’s positive and direct approach, with some disorganised defending contributing to their downfall. On that evidence incoming boss Antonio Conte may look to make a number of changes to the playing staff over the summer.
The biggest headline from a Chelsea perspective from that defeat on Wearside however was the late dismissal of John Terry after he picked up a second yellow card. It means he is suspended for the club’s final two games of the season, leaving many speculate whether he has played the last game of his long and illustrious career at the West London club. His absence will leave them lacking some leadership, but a game at Anfield should be a prime motivational tool in itself.
Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi is still out injured for Liverpool, who may give another start in attack to Christian Benteke.
Along with Terry, Chelsea are unable to call upon Loic Remy and Kurt Zouma. However, Pedro Rodriguez may be involved after missing the game at Sunderland.
Last Meeting: Victory for Chelsea in November 2014 saw them maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League season, but to do so they needed to come from behind as Emre Can’s deflected strike put Liverpool ahead after only seven minutes. Gary Cahill forced home the equaliser from close range to equalise, before Diego Costa settled it in the second half after good work from Eden Hazard on the Chelsea left.
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