CHELSEA VS LIVERPOOL: PREVIEW
Following the latest ‘unacceptable’ performance and defeat (this time to Manchester City), Liverpool travel to fellow strugglers Chelsea tomorrow night aiming to salvage something from this wreck of a campaign. Here’s the match preview.
It was Groundhog’s Day yet again on Saturday as the Reds lost another away league game (their eighth such defeat of the season). It was another early kickoff that ended in disappointment, and we’ve had half a dozen of those already this campaign.
It was akin to the capitulation against Real Madrid in February, as Jürgen Klopp’s men went to lose by three goals despite taking the lead in the game. The first half was actually competitive, with Liverpool sitting in their shape content to let City play side to side.
When Salah broke the deadlock from a well worked move, it looked rosy for a few minutes. Going in level at the break was not the worst result in the world but what followed was a collective letdown. By the hour mark the Reds were 3-1 down and in damage limitation mode.
The chasm between the two sides was staggering, you wouldn’t think these two teams pushed the title race to the wire just last season. A crisis meeting has been held at the club in the aftermath of that game, but we will only find out if a line has been drawn in the sand when the game kicks off at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Opponents Chelsea are enduring a similarly torrid season. Graham Potter has paid for it as he was relieved of his duties yesterday. The Blues have lost as many league matches as they have won (10), conceding more goals (30) than they have managed to score (29).
It has been a disastrous campaign, with Thomas Tuchel being sacked very early after a £300m splurge, and his successor suffering the same fate after an even more eye watering winter transfer window spending spree.
Expensive new signings have failed to hit the ground running and as ever, the manager has been the one to take the fall. When these two sides met at Anfield back in January, Chelsea actually got the better of proceedings.
They were perhaps a tad unlucky not to nick a win as Liverpool held on for a point after a dour game. The two sides were struggling then and that has not changed coming into this clash. The Reds are on a three game losing streak in all competitions.
This coming straight after the exhilarating high of thrashing bitter rivals Manchester United 7-0 makes it even harder to fathom. Chelsea meanwhile lost 2-0 at home to Aston Villa last time out, with that result seeing them languish in the bottom half of the table.
Tomorrow night is a brand new start for the Blues. Can this crop of players rise to the occasion and herald a new era under an interim manager (Bruno Saltor)? Or will they continue to struggle to function as a well oiled machine seeing as most of the machine parts are brand new?
For Liverpool, the message from the manager has been clear. They have to sort it and sort it fast. Top four aspirations are fading quickly unless they can rouse themselves up and put a run together. We’ve been expecting this winning run for a while now but the Reds continue flattering to deceive.
With twelve games remaining and the gap to 4th extending by the week, Jürgen Klopp’s men can ill afford another woeful away day. It’s a whopping eight losses on the road this campaign, leaving the side 13th in the away table.
On home form alone, the Reds would be third (above Manchester United on goal difference). Whatever the issue is, the manager has to figure it out and solve it sharpish. His record at Stamford Bridge can perhaps instil a bit of confidence.
He’s taken charge of seven league games at Chelsea, losing only once. He’s overseen four victories and two draws. A fifth victory would be highly welcome tomorrow night.
For Liverpool, Thiago Alcantara and Luis Diaz remain unavailable despite returning to training in recent days. Naby Keita (muscle), Calvin Ramsay (knee) and Stefan Bajcetic (groin) remain out injured.
For Chelsea, Armando Broja (knee), Cesar Azpilicueta (concussion) and Thiago Silva (knee) are all ruled out. Raheem Sterling (thigh), Edouard Mendy (finger) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (back) remain doubts.
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