Liverpool v Chelsea – Match preview and team news

Rafael Benitez makes his first return to Anfield since departing as Liverpool manager in the summer of 2010, though no one on Merseyside could ever have expected it would be as interim boss at a club that he so often locked horns with during his time in L4, Chelsea.

The Blues are in the middle of an extremely punishing fixture schedule at the moment as they juggle progress in the Europa League as well as a fight to finish in the top four. However, the signs were there in their 3-0 midweek victory over West London rivals Fulham that the players were showing no ill-effects from the prolonged run of games and following Arsenal’s victory over the Cottagers on Saturday, will know that three more points at Anfield will take them back above the Gunners into third position.

Benitez may make several changes from the one that triumphed at Craven Cottage, with the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Victor Moses, John Obi Mikel and Fernando Torres all in danger of being relegated to the substitutes bench. Torres is of course returning to the stadium where he was once adored as one of the world’s most feared strikers.

Elsewhere, English pair Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill are fighting to be fit after recent spells on the sidelines with hamstring and knee injuries respectively.

For the hosts, Champions League football next season now looks like an impossibility although Brendan Rodgers will be keen to ensure his side find their scoring touch again after two consecutive goalless draws against Reading and West Ham.

Stewart Downing is pushing for a recall ahead of either Daniel Sturridge or Phillipe Coutinho while Jamie Carragher looks set to continue in defence alongside Daniel Agger.

Raheem Sterling remains absent while Fabio Borini, Martin Kelly and Joe Allen will all miss the rest of the season.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Liverpool v Chelsea

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