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Liverpool vs Chelsea: Match Preview, 2nd May 2010

Ancelotti will have to get tactics spot on

One point lead with 2 games to go, it really is a precarious situation. And it is not helped by the fact that we are facing Liverpool at Anfield. Because if Chelsea fail to win and Manchester United win at Sunderland then it virtually hands the title to United as the last game of the season for both the clubs are quite easy on paper. But this has been a strange season for Liverpool. After finishing second last season their fans would have expected to be challenging for the title. But a whopping 17 defeats this season have caused their hopes to vanish. The Anfield crowd will likely be subdued because if results go Manchester United’s way they will overtake Liverpool in terms of league titles. Their record of 18 league titles has been something Liverpool fans are proud of and they would rather see Chelsea lift the trophy than United. There have been suggestions that Liverpool will let Chelsea win easily as they have nothing to play for in this season. But Ancelotti
will not have his players buy too much into that because the players are professionals and they would want to win just for their futures.

One crucial aspect for the game is tiredness. Liverpool come on the back of a loss in the Europa League semi-finals losing 2-2 on aggregate even though winning 2-1 on the night. The game went into extra time and will it prove to be a factor in the closing stages of this game? On the other hand, Chelsea have had a week’s rest. Ancelotti was referring to this point when he said,

‘Maybe they will be a little bit tired, they play a strong 90 minutes every game and I think they will do the same Sunday. I don’t know if it is better to play against a Liverpool that lost the semi-final of the Europa League or not but we have to think that we play against a strong team. We have to play against fantastic players in a very difficult atmosphere because we know how the fans of Liverpool support their team.’

It is a similar scenario as in the Manchester United match a few weeks ago when they had just exited Europe and we had scored 7 goals. The injury situation is not helped by the fact that Fernando Torres is ruled out for the rest of the season. Chelsea also have injury problems with Mikel ruled out of this game. That leaves with Ballack to be playing in the holding role. Although it is not his natural position, he did the job pretty well in the last game against Stoke when he was one of the outstanding players. Terry is back from suspension and that will mean that Ivanovic is likely to be playing at right back. Martin Skrtel is injured and it is a big boost for Chelsea because even if he is not in form, Drogba struggles against him due to the fact that he has more presence than Drogba. But against Carragher, Drogba should fancy his chances as more often than not, gets the better of him.

Gerrard after Liverpool’s exit in Europa League

Ancelotti has hinted that he might not make much change to the side that spectacularly beat Stoke last weekend. Personally, I would have Kalou ahead of Joe Cole at the moment. The big worry for Chelsea has to be Aquilani and Gerrard getting their form. Gerrard scored 2 goals last weekend against Burnley and Aquilani scored the opener against Atletico Madrid.

This is not the time for slip ups. The players know that, the fans know that. Therefore it is vital that Chelsea come out and play well right from the first whistle. Any mistakes like in the Tottenham game are going to be costlier than ever. But Chelsea can be confident because they have won against all the top four teams this season conceding only one goal and that was handball during the Manchester United game. If we win the game then the title is virtually ours with only an already safe Wigan to come to Stamford Bridge.

The mind games have already started, though not by Ancelotti, with Benitez claiming that his players are not fit to face Chelsea and are shattered. Ferguson who once famously claimed his aim was to knock Liverpool off their perch incredibly urged them not to lose their history by losing to Chelsea. What a load of rubbish. Liverpool will lose their history only if they beat Chelsea and allow United to get the 19th league title. Mind games or not, this is going to be one tough game for Chelsea and the players have to remain fully focussed.

My Prediction: Chelsea to win 3-1

Possible team line up:

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Mascherano, Gerrard, Lucas, Aquilani, Benayoun, Babel, Kuyt.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Cole, Ballack, Lampard, Malouda, Kalou, Anelka, Drogba.


Last Meeting: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

Kick Off Times:

Liverpool v Chelsea: 13:30 BST Venue: Anfield, Liverpool.
Sunderland v Manchester United: 16:00 BST Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland.