The Chelsea Preview

Super Sunday is here, and with it the biggest game of the season. Our reds host a resurgent Chelsea side at Anfield looking to pick up another 3 points as we march towards the title. City play away from home at Palace, a side that have already beaten the defending champions this season, before Liverpools kick off. The dynamic of the title race could very well shift in the next 24 hours, and a lot rests on this game. A few weeks ago, before we had Fulham at Craven Cottage, I looked at Liverpools remaining fixtures in the league, and regardless of form at the time, I saw this Chelsea game as the biggest test. Tottenham was obviously another big game that I identified, but I had confidence for that one as we usually do well against Spurs. However Chelsea are a side we struggle to win against. As everyone would have predicted, a lot has been made in the pre game build up for this match of the famous Gerrard slip. Sky Sports even writing a feature article about it, which I couldn't read, even the picture of it made me feel sick. Then there's the pundits, who change their tune every day so that they grab peoples attention, claiming Liverpool will be nervous for this game with the ghosts of the past haunting the players. Couple that with their claims of Eden Hazard being the best footballer to grace the planet right now, its obvious to see there is a clear agenda against this Liverpool side. First of all, it's easy to forget how long ago the Gerrard slip actually was. Only two current Liverpool players were a member of Brendan Rodgers squad that season, Hendo and Mignolet. Jordan missed that game due to suspension, so only Mignolet donned a red shirt that day, and obviously on the other side was a young 21 year old winger from Egypt named Mo Salah. To say that the memories of that match will scar this Liverpool side, I believe has no traction what so ever. The only people that result has any impact on is us, the fans, but it shouldn't. I would be a lot more concerned for this game if we was coming up against a Jose Mourinho side, the master of shithousery. A man who had a squad at his disposal probably worth double of Liverpools, and informed them he wanted at least two yellow cards by the end of the first half for wasting time. I would be more concerned if it was an Antonio Conte side, set up to be very hard to beat and break down. A side very disciplined in the back, with 3 CBs and a defensive mid in Ngolo Kante who would sweep up everything in sight. However we're coming up against a so called footballing side, with a style of football so good, it even has its own name in Sarri ball. A side that conceded 4 goals away to Bournemouth and 6 goals away to city. Interestingly enough, the last time Chelsea played a premier league game after a Europa League tie, was across Stanley park at Goodison, where the Toffees won 2 nil. Mix all that with the fact that Chelsea have only had two days to prepare for this game, whereas Liverpool have had at least 4, gives me great confidence that we can get the job done. Without dwelling on Chelsea too much, Hazard vs Trent will be the key battle of this game, and whoever comes out on top I believe will have a huge impact on the result of this match. Eden is clearly a world class talent, and unfortunately for us, he loves to turn it on against the reds. Much has been said of his lack of effort in some games, but it's never been a problem against Liverpool, you'll find him tracking back and disrupting our attacks down the right wing with frequent occasion as if he was a defensive mid. We all know what he can do down the other end. Where this battle will be lost and won in my opinion is in the pocket behind Trent. He will need cover almost all game, obviously that goes without saying for a right back who is essentially a creative midfielder on the right flank, but in his defensive duties he can't allow Hazard to have too much time on the ball. He will have to stick close and get into him early, which opens the gap behind Trent, down the left wing for Chelsea. Whoever is playing RCB will have to double up as a RB at times, and I presume Fabinho would then drop into that vacant CB position. If executed properly, I don't see Liverpool having too many problems in shutting out the rest of Chelsea's attack, they are essentially a one man team. If Hazard isn't playing well, or isn't on the pitch, they struggle to break down teams, which was evident in there win against Cardiff. This isn't me saying it will be a walk in the park, its much easier said than done, but I have so much faith in this Liverpool defence to cope with their threat.

After an impressive showing midweek for Liverpool, winning 2 nil at home against Porto, the lads will be brimming with confidence. Encouraging displays from Keita and Bobby, will put them in good stead for this game. I do presume that Naby will lose his starting position for this one, with Gini replacing him. However it's great to have him as an option on the bench, where he can make an impact if brought on. I believe Bobby is so instrumental to what Liverpool do, and when he's playing well, the front three always seem to be dangerous, especially Mo. Firmino is that linchpin, the fulcrum point of our attack, so it's a perfect time in the season for him to hit top form. I think Salah had a great game midweek, mainly in how dangerous he looked, not so much his end product, but hopefully he can set that right in todays game. With the disgusting videos that came out midweek, of the Chelsea fans singing racist songs about the lad, it would be sweet sweet justice for him to settle this one in front of the Anfield faithful. I think Hendo has also played his way into the starting 11 in recent games, especially in this more advanced role, allowing him to become the box to box midfielder he naturally is. I predict the starting line up for this game will be Ali, Trent, Matip, Virg, Robbo, Hendo, Fabinho, Gini, Salah, Firmino, Mane.

This game is massive, as on paper it's our hardest game remaining in the league, but I think it's bigger for the mentality of the team. I already believe the lads think they can lift the title, but with a victory here against Chelsea, it will boost that confidence even higher, to the point where we could very well win every game till the end of the season. A run if achieved, will gift us the Premiership in my opinion. City also have a tricky tie against Palace just before our game, where they will have one eye on their second leg encounter against Tottenham. We could see a massive shift in the power struggle for this title today, here's hoping. C'mon you Redmen! YNWA.

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