So. Chelsea versus Liverpool. I seem to remember this going badly for most of the past two years, with the notable exception being the FA Cup Final, which we decided to win because letting Liverpool have real trophies seemed like a bad idea. It's funny, because if there's ever been a time to beat the Reds, it's been over the past couple of seasons, which has seen them transition from one of the 'big four' to a Europa League team.
Since the 2009/10 season, the Blues have faced Liverpool six times. They've won just one of those encounters, losing the other five by a combined score of many-few. The most recent encounter was something of an embarrassing one, as far as we were concerned -- although the annoyance of losing 4-1 at Anfield with a skeleton crew was rather mitigated by the whole winning-the-Champions-League business we managed eleven days later.
Anyway. Time to turn that record around. I'm not too concerned about history. There's no reason that Liverpool have had our number over the past few seasons. A poor run against a random team is just one of those things that happens. If last May's win at Wembley wasn't enough, now we have a prime chance to turn that run into a thing of the past. I guess it already is a thing of the past, but whatever you got my drift.
Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool have at least realised that most of their elderly, bad players don't merit a starting spot on a team with the Reds' ambitions, which means we're unlikely to see Stewart Downing or Joe Cole in action at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Unfortunately for Rodgers, Steven Gerrard's still on the team disrupting their buildup play, and their kids, while promising, aren't really ready to be competing at this sort of level. Both Glen Johnson and Pepe 'Uncharacteristic Error' Reina could return to the fold after injuries.
The obvious threat is Luis Suarez, who, despite being very, very annoying, is a genuinely dangerous striker who can cut through defences like butter. Although John Terry might be pushing for a return to the fold, I'd feel more comfortable starting more mobile centre backs in David Luiz and Gary Cahill over the captain. Ashley Cole's still out, which means another start for Ryan Bertrand.
Don't expect the Reds to press the attack quite as hard as Shakhtar Donetsk did in midweek. They'll probably be happy to cede possession and look to hit us on the counterattack, which means the fullbacks cannot over-commit forward and leave space in behind. Although the Oscar-Eden Hazard-Juan Mata trifecta is probably the best tool for the situation here, they worked very hard on Wednesday and it wouldn't be a huge shock to see Victor Moses rewarded for his game-winning goal with a start.
No matter what lineup Roberto di Matteo runs with, we should expect Chelsea to dispatch Liverpool. Poor record against them aside, they're just not good enough for anything less than three points at home to be acceptable. And, as St. Thomas Aquinas once declared, "Seriously you guys, [redacted] Liverpool."
Date/Time: Sunday, November 11th; 4:00 p.m. GMT (11:00 a.m. EST; 9:30 p.m. IST).
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London.
TV information: Sky Sports 1 (UK), Fox Soccer Channel (USA), ESPN (India).