Liverpool host Premier League leaders Chelsea
Liverpool host Premier League leaders Chelsea tonight in what will be an amazing encounter. Liverpool need a great performance and more importantly a positive result. A win will close the gap on Chelsea and really help with their own title challenge. Klopp would be looking to complete a league double after beating Chelsea in their own back yard 2-1 in September. This fixture could be the one that actually kick-start their campaign.
If Chelsea actually beat Liverpool, you feel the title will be theirs to lose. However, they will be aware they will face a difficult task winning at Anfield, where they haven’t won since 2014.
Liverpool Match Facts
- Unbeaten in the last four league meetings (W2, D2).
- Failed to win any of the last four home league games against Chelsea (D2, L2).
- Only won one of their last eight matches (D3, L4) in all competitions, losing their last three in a row.
- If Liverpool beat Chelsea, their points tally of 48 will equal the club record after 23 matches of a Premier League season (from 2008-09).
- Klopp has lost just one of his 14 Premier League meetings against the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal (W6, D7).
- The Reds haven’t won any of their league matches without Sadio Mane (D1, L2), scoring only three goals in those three fixtures.
I expect Liverpool to come out of the blocks at a fast tempo and go on the attack, which could potentially play straight into Chelsea’s hands. Currently the king’s of the counter-attack. Liverpool need to wary of Chelsea’s width and pace. Will Klopp adjust to a similar formation they used in the second half at the weekend?
A decision to be made on Mané
Klopp will have to make a late decision on whether to play Sadio Mane after he was delayed on his return from the Africa Cup of Nations. Despite a private jet being organised to quickly fly Mane back from Gabon he didn’t arrive in Liverpool till Monday night.
Speaking to media earlier on Monday, Klopp had said, “We thought it would be possible yesterday, we had the plane there, but he was not allowed to go in the plane so we had to wait. Now it is all good and he will be here tonight at some point, then we will have to see.”
“I spoke to him, it’s all good so far, but of course he will be in tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and then we have to make a decision. In this moment, I have no idea – I have to look into his eyes and see whatever is possible.”
Liverpool have struggled since Mané left for Africa. He is the club’s top scorer this season with nine goals and the team has failed to win six of the seven games played since he left for Africa.
As Liverpool now finish a January to forget, they face a ‘now or never’ moment, even with much of the season remaining.
Adam Lallana has recovered from a minor injury but Nathaniel Clyne is still doubtful with a rib problem. The question is will Klopp give Sturridge or Origi another chance or will he play Lallana in the front three?
Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Milner, Matip, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho.
What the managers have to say
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp:
“Losing three home games [in a row] feels less than average. But losing in three competitions is better than losing three in just one.”
“I really think we should try everything to make the best of the base we made. Stay positive. It’s possible we could qualify for the Champions League.”
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte:
“Liverpool’s recent results are difficult to explain and I feel they have been unlucky.”
“We have grown since our first meeting with Liverpool and we have improved a lot in terms of our identity and confidence. When you face teams of the same level it’s important to win for confidence, but the difficulty is high.”