|photo credit: flickr.com
Liverpool, with a win in 8 matches is set to host Chelsea in their highly esteemed battle ground Anfield stadium, a pitch dreaded by all teams. Liverpool had been without Sadio Mane, their ever-consistent playmaker due to Nations cup duties, and since then Liverpool had just managed to win a match in 8 matches played over the course of this month. The “Maneless” Liverpool had been eliminated in two competitions during this period and are 10 points adrift Chelsea who lies on top of the table. On the other hand, Chelsea has been on top form as they defeated their west London neighbors Brentford in the FA cup to progress to the last 16. Looking at the present situation of forms one might conclude a gallant win for the Blues, but at Anfield it’s never going to be easy. Let’s see some talking points that could make this game one of the toughest or even the toughest this season.
One important boost for Liverpool is the elimination of Senegal from the African Cup of Nations on Saturday putting a stop to Sadio Mane’s international duties. So ahead of the Chelsea match today, Liverpool had sent a private jet to pick their in-form forward player on Sunday. Mane seemed to have been the only player this season with the manual to the Liverpool attack. So Chelsea won’t be expecting a clear-cut game from Liverpool. Even Antonio Conte of Chelsea in a press conference said that he knew Chelsea is set to face an angry Liverpool team who had lost their last three games, so the battle is going to be fierce.
How delicately the first six teams stage on the EPL table is another food for thought that will make Liverpool stake this game as a ‘do or die’ affair. Though, Chelsea looks a bit comfortable sitting on top of the table with a difference of 8 points from Arsenal sitting second in the table. But the pressure starts from the second-placed Arsenal to the sixth-placed Manchester United with just six point difference. So, a defeat for Liverpool tonight is enough to cost them their current champions league position as Manchester City is gladly awaiting their slip to move to the fourth position. On the other hand, a win for Liverpool tonight and a loss for both Arsenal and Tottenham will see them rise to the second position. This is a deal Liverpool will be most interested to seal off. All to be seen tonight.
Chelsea is coming strong into this game to maintain their position and if possible widen the gap on EPL table. A defeat for Chelsea will still place them first in the table, though with a narrower margin. But Chelsea’s most motivating factor is to avoid Liverpool winning them home and away this season as most teams especially the coaches sees this as humiliating. So for Chelsea this match is most likely to be called a Vendetta. Tracing back to the first leg, Jugen Klopp welcomed Antonio Conte to the EPL with Conte’s first defeat in the competition. So, I think here is the chance for Conte to appreciate Klopp’s welcoming parcel and prove to him that he is now getting well along with the EPL.
Enough of talking points, let’s see how tonight is going to be, its a match that should not be missed. Really going to be interesting.