Chelsea have nothing left to play for.
Liverpool have plenty to play for. Perhaps too much, even, and like Chelsea in 2012, are having to figure out how much emphasis to place on European versus domestic fixtures. Should they win next week's Europa League final, they will be in the Champions League next season. Should they lose, but finish ahead of where they are currently in 8th, they'd qualify for the Europa League. Doing neither would probably constitute failure. They're two points behind Southampton and four points behind West Ham with a game-in-hand over both.
Just like Di Matteo in 2012, manager Jurgen Klopp has been rotating his squad heavily, in an almost A-team/B-team fashion. This game, his 50th in charge of the Reds, will feature most of the A-team, as they prepare for next Wednesday's final against Sevilla. If Mourinho were in charge, he'd no doubt take extreme pleasure in not only denying Liverpool the three points here but knocking their ideal preparations and confidence off-kilter as well. But he isn't, plus there's no Stevie G to poke fun at either.
Then again, to be clear, that's the ideal, before-this-season-Mourinho we're talking about. Current-season-Mourinho was instead on hand for the first day of the rest of Liverpool's lives, when Klopp came to Stamford Bridge and walked away a 3-1 winner. Or as our colleagues at The Liverpool Offside put it:
It was the first match that had Liverpool fans genuinely thrilled by the team Klopp was creating.
Well, that's just great. Isn't that great? Absolutely fantastic. Public service number one.
Next season can't possibly come soon enough.
Date / Time: Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 20:00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool, England
Referee: Michael Oliver — Mr. Oliver's back for the fifth time this season. We last saw him two months ago, also up in Liverpool, as we exited the FA Cup with yet another crushingly disappointing loss to Everton (who are so bad, they're below even Chelsea in the league!). Oliver's three other games were all draws (Swansea H, Spurs A, Man Utd H).
Forecast: Cloudy, mild, humid, possibly wet.
On TV: Sky Sports 2 (UK);
NBCSN, NBC Universo Premier League Extra Time (USA); Star Sports 1 / HD 1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra; NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India); Chelsea TV (radio, int'l)
Liverpool team news: A fairly sizable injury list includes Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi and backup goalkeeper Danny Ward, plus longer-term absentees Danny Ings, Joe Gomez, and Jordan Rossiter. Daniel Sturridge is NOT injured. He also seems to have stopped his silly/awesome dance celebration. Mystery solved!
Since struggling through January, Liverpool have won 7 of 11 in the league and have vanquished four teams in Europe including Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. The future looks promising for the Reds.
View from the enemy: The Liverpool Offside
Chelsea team news: A suddenly expanded injury list includes a possibly dead and buried Loïc Rémy, a hamstring-less Diego Costa, two-goal Branislav Ivanovic, and young Kurt Zouma's shattered ACL ligament. Plus, Pedro broke his nose in mysterious circumstances (Pedro's wife was not involved, Old Man Hiddink has assured us in a bit of sexist comedy) and will be the seventh (7th!) man to wear a mask at Chelsea this season. Then again, they're all wearing rather life-like masks, whoever these impostors are who have stood in all season for the 2014-15 Champions of England.
Woth both the captain (Terry's suspended for the rest of his Chelsea career, as we know) and vice-captain out, wonder who gets the armband?
Since going on a much talked about but not all that impressive 15-match unbeaten streak, Chelsea have won just one of five (losing three) in the Premier League. Even with a promising new manager, the future looks murky for the Blues.
Previously: The result sucked — and it's a frustrating watch, it should be said, for all the small margins that went against Chelsea — but Ramires's goal was awesome (starting with the backheel) and it also proved to be his last ever for Chelsea.