Just a couple weeks shy of five years ago, Chelsea went to Anfield in the midst of a busy European schedule, and produced a famous, chest-beating win for José Mourinho that set the tone for the club’s Premier League title win the following season. More importantly at the time, it also blew wide open a title race that looked to be in Liverpool’s hands. Steven Gerrard’s slip is what everyone remembers, but it was also one of the last true hurrah’s of the Classic Mourinho Game.
Willian was one of those brave Chelsea souls at Anfield that day, as was, incidentally, Mohamed Salah, then still a Blue. Eden Hazard was carrying a small injury and did not travel, as Chelsea had a Champions League semifinal second leg to contest against Atlético Madrid a few days later. And while that went horribly badly for us, the match at Anfield, Liverpool’s penultimate for that season, went horribly bad for them. Manchester City would go on to win the title.
Chelsea may be worse off now (although we did finish third, narrowly), but we can have as much of a say in the title race as back then. In 2014, Liverpool had a three-point lead but City had a game in hand. Now, Liverpool have a two-point lead and City again have a game-in-hand. The big difference is the number of games remaining, with 4-5 left this season as opposed to just 1-2 five years ago, though the assumption that neither team will drop any (other) points is probably a bit too idealistic. Or maybe not.
Regardless, we all know how much Eden loves a title-deciding occasion, right, Spurs?
“They’ve been on fire for two years, not just this season. It’s a fantastic team to watch, the manager is great - some of the best players in the world. It’s going to be a good game, a hard one but it’s always hard at Anfield.
“We want to win to get into the top four, we don’t care about the title race. I want to say [Manchester] City [will win the title] because we have Liverpool still to play.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Sky
Of course our first priority will be Chelsea’s own top-four challenge. But a win at Anfield accomplishes both goals, which makes this a very, very big occasion indeed. Willian, who set up Fernando Torres for the empty net tap-in at the end of that game in 2014, is very much excited for a chance to do something important again.
“Sunday will be a very, very big game, and a very exciting game. We are ready to play this game and we are excited. We have targets in the Premier League and in the Europa League. Our target in the Premier League is to stay in the top four, so we have to go there on Sunday and try to win the game.”
-Willian; source: Sky
After playing the full 90 in last night’s 1-0 grind over Slavia Prague, Willian may not get the starting nod. In his stead — and going off of recent form as well — should be young Callum Hudson-Odoi, the future of Chelsea. Hazard, who’s probably off to Real Madrid this summer, has already anointed the 18-year-old as his successor.
“He’s the future of Chelsea. I’ve told him already. He’s still young but when you see him he looks like he’s played 10 years. He’s a great guy to work with, he’s been fantastic. He wants to learn and he’s young so I hope Chelsea can keep him for a long time.
“He’s got quality, sometimes I understand it’s hard to get young players in the team because we have people like me, Willian, Pedro. But when he has the chance to play they have to show they’re ready and Callum is showing that right now.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Sky
Eden is already a legend. Callum can start building his this weekend.
So say we all.