Amidst all the Silly Season nonsense about managerial merry-go-rounds, it’s easy to forget that Chelsea’s 2017-18 season is still not over. The Blues still have an FA Cup final and — mathematically possible, if still improbable — top four finish in the Premier League to fight for.
We return to action against bitter rivals Liverpool, after a full week’s rest, following our 1-0 win over Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium — courtesy of a 4th minute goal by Magic Hat Fabregas.
And even if Tottenham managed to get a 2-0 victory over Watford to further their claim into a top four finish in the league, the victory still proved key as Chelsea managed to close the gap on Liverpool to 6 points, following the Reds’ 0-0 draw against relegation-threatened Stoke City at Anfield.
And we can finish ahead of them, as despite the gap they’ve played a match more. However, these hopes hinge on Chelsea win all remaining games, which includes their next Sunday’s encounter with Liverpool; and Liverpool losing not only their Chelsea bout but also a home match against Brighton in the last round of the Premier League.
This is not the only combination possible to fulfil our top dreams, as a loss this weekend and a draw for Liverpool, combined with Chelsea winning the remaining two games would get us a Champions League berth in the PL. However, Chelsea cannot afford to end up on the same points as the Reds because of our inferior goal difference. Still, it is difficult to expect Liverpool will lose against the likes of Brighton at home but crazier things have happened in football.
Our manager, for once, seems to be quite optimistic of our chances, as he should be.
Conte on Liverpool being more vulnerable than Spurs in top four chase?: "Yes, this could be a good opportunity for us. As I said a lot of times in the last 3 games, if we want to keep the hope alive, we have to win and get 3 points (in every game)" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 4, 2018
One of the biggest reasons for Liverpool being in such a good position is their lethal attack which has helped them score 80 goals in Premier League and namely, Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian Messi has set the league on fire with his amazing displays, scoring 31 goals in just the league itself. The magnitude of Salah’s impact could not have been predicted and our gaffer seems to think the same thing.
Conte on Mo Salah being world class: "This season for Salah is a fantastic season, for sure we are talking about a really good player. I knew him when he played in Italy, but to wait for this type of season, it would be very difficult to predict this season for Salah" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 4, 2018
However, Chelsea must not be drawn into believing that stopping Salah means stopping Liverpool. Even if you stop Salah, Mane and Firmino will still find a way to punish you and if they don’t, Liverpool’s pressing and quick transitions definitely will. Klopp has managed to make a team, rather than a gathering of individual talent and in order to stop them, you need a coherent and a comprehensive plan.
As Roma and Manchester City found out in the Champions League, as bad as Liverpool’s defence is, their attack is equally as good, capable of destroying any and everything standing in its way. Roma, in particular, found it out the hard way that playing a high line against this Liverpool is akin to digging your own grave as they lost 5-2 at Anfield. However, once they switched to a more orthodox back four, they managed to beat Liverpool 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico and Conte seems to be determined to not make the same mistake that Eusebio Di Francesco made in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.
Conte on Liverpool-Roma: "We must pay great attention. Especially in the first game against Rome, they showed if you give them space behind the defensive line that they are very dangerous. They have three special players. Mane, Salah and Firminio." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 4, 2018
Moving away from the Liverpool game, Conte was asked about his future, once again, and his answer, just like the previous 1400 times, was the same once again as he reiterated his desire to honour his contract. You have got to give credit to him for not losing his cool after being asked the same question, week in week out.
Conte on his future: "You have been asking for my opinion since the first game of the season, the Burnley defeat, it is very strange to have the same question in every press conference. My answer is always the same. I have a contract" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 4, 2018
Speaking of the aforementioned Silly Season nonsense, one rumour that seems to be picking up steam in the recent weeks is the transfer of Manchester United’s Anthony Martial to Chelsea. The manager was having none of it, stating that his focus, at this point of the season, was solely on finishing this season in the best way possible.
That’s all, folks! That’s all that was noteworthy from the pre-game press conference for the Liverpool. Thankfully, there are no new injuries and no new drama which Chelsea fans need to worry about.
It’s make or break time!