Bring out your fava beans and bottles of chianti, Liverpool are in town and Luis Suarez is hungry for more. More goals, that is. Probably. Although I'm fine with another round of ManBear sacrifice if it gets us the three points. Kali Ma Shakti de! Sorry, Bane, times are tough and we've got to do what we've got to do.
Beyond strange magics and human sacrifice, I really have no idea how to stop Suarez. Nineteen goals in thirteen games is unconscionable. Those are FIFA or Football Manager numbers, and even those would require you to find some weakness or glitch in the artificial intelligence. His performances have been so outrageous that everybody has completely forgotten just how much they hated him not six months ago - and I'm including Liverpool fans here, too - and how he was all but gone from England last summer.
But he stayed, and despite his suspension, he's once again put the Reds on his back and has carried them to title-challenging heights. It hasn't been all him of course - Daniel Sturridge has found the goalscoring form that we've all feared he would find as soon as he left Chelsea and even Victor Moses has made a few positive contributions - but the main idea should still be to stop Suarez at all cost. Hopefully Mourinho's actual plan amounts to more than just wishing a "little injury" onto him.
With the clubs so inextricably linked over the last several transfer windows, there will be story lines aplenty. The Mourinho - Rodgers relationship will only add to that. José called Brendan "one of my best friends in the game" while the man who sat a couple rows behind The Special One for three years at Stamford Bridge credited José with giving him the self-esteem and confidence needed to become successful on his own as well.
"He was brilliant for me. He really took me under his wing. I was a 30-year-old nobody who worked in youth development, who was assigned to come in and work there with him. From the first day of meeting him, he gave me the confidence and responsibility and accountability to work at that level. There are not many managers that would have done that. I was in pole position to learn and I wasn't going to miss that opportunity, hoping that one day I could follow in his footsteps at a leading club."
-Brendan Rodgers; source: Sky
Of course as soon as the whistle blows, the two men will put aside their respective respects and get on with the business of winning. And I really can't think of many things nicer than a lovely set of three points (and second or third in the league and just one or two points behind the leaders) with which to ring in the new year.
Date/Time: Sunday, December 29, 2013, 16:00 GMT; 11am EST; 9:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Forecast: Winter is coming
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD 2 (India)
Online: Sky Go, NOW TV (UK); NBC Live Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Chelsea team news: Ryan Bertrand continues on with his mystery ailment and Marco van Ginkel is still consigned to just crossing out the days on his wall calendar. Or does he keep the time with tick marks? Ramires is suspended on account of his fifth yellow card, and that's a huge loss even with Mikel in excellent form. John Terry will be going for his 600th appearance and Petr Cech's next clean sheet will equal Peter Bonetti's club record of 208.
Liverpool team news: The Reds' injury list is considerably longer, with Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Jose Enrique, and Jon Flanagan all sidelined. Sebastian Coates is their long-term injury absentee, while Victor Moses will miss out due to the standard loan terms of not being allowed to play against your parent club. Rodgers will probably make as few changes as possible to the side that played so well away to Manchester City, so expect to see a midfield of Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson, and Lucas Leiva and a front three of Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, and of course Luis Suarez.
Previously: Chelsea haven't beaten Liverpool in the league since the year of The Double, losing four in a row before settling for draws in both meetings last season. The FA Cup victory under Roberto Di Matteo does put a shiny, positive spin on all that though.