Obligatory mentions and references to ‘The Slip’ (2014) aside, Chelsea visiting Anfield at the business end of the season will always produce drama and will tend to be played with something on the line.
This time, it’s Liverpool trying to end a nearly three-decade-long title drought (since 1989-90), while Chelsea are hoping to avoid missing out on the Champions League again. The last time Chelsea failed to qualify for the top European competition in consecutive seasons was in 2001-02.
Regardless of the outcome, neither the title race nor the top-four race will be over. But these are mighty precious three points up for grabs, and a great chance for someone to turn themselves into a hero.
Or a villain.
The game will also mark the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster (April 15, 1989) to add to the emotion of the occasion — if you haven’t seen the 30-for-30 documentary on it that first aired on the 25th anniversary, you should (ESPN2 will play it today, or find it streaming).
Date / Time: Sunday, April 14, 2019, 16:30 BST; 11:30am EDT; 9pm IST
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool, England
Referee: Michael Oliver — one of the most prominent referees in England, often considered the best, gets this big call. Let’s hope he gets his calls right. This is his fifth Chelsea match of the season (Palace, City, both wins, Wolves, a draw, all at the Bridge, plus the 1-0 loss in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal).
Forecast: Possible sightings of the sun, but also a bit windy
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA), Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); Fubo (affiliate link — USA only)
Liverpool team news: By the time this game kicks off, Liverpool will know the result of the Manchester City game. The narrative will thus focus on Liverpool’s response to that and there will be plenty of talk about bottling and choking and nervousness and, of course, slipping. But Liverpool are seemingly unstoppable, especially at Anfield, and even when they don’t play well, they tend to either luck into or grind out the points. The hallmark of champions, as they often say.
Liverpool are also going strong in the Champions League, beating Porto 2-0 in the quarterfinal first leg last Tuesday, so even though the second leg is just 72 hours after the final whistle on Sunday, they can afford to place emphasis on this game for now. Fitness tests for Sadio Mané and Georginio Wijnaldum aside, Klopp should have his usual full complement of players to choose from.
Liverpool have not lost at home since Chelsea beat them in the League Cup way back in late September.
View from the enemy: The Liverpool Offside
Chelsea team news: No injuries of note for the Blues as the good health of the squad continues.
Sarri rotated a significant number of players for Thursday’s 1-0 win over Slavia Prague, and the likes of Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kanté, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Callum Hudson-Odoi (who wasn’t even put on the bench) had gotten a good amount of rest, presumably with a view towards starting today.
Chelsea have won four on the bounce, but face a tough schedule in the final five games of the league season. We will need to produce some of the season’s best performances to finish ahead of at least two of Spurs, Arsenal, and Manchester United.
Previously: Of course it has to be this, a Premier League classic.