Luis Suarez was the centre of controversy last time these teams met. Image courtesy of thinkfootball.co.uk
This Chelsea vs Liverpool clash really didn’t need anyone to spice it up, but as usual, Blues manager Jose Mourinho managed just that this week when he claimed Liverpool is only in the top four because it doesn’t have European commitments. Regardless, the Reds showed on Boxing Day they belong in their lofty position on the table pushing Manchester City all the way before succumbing 2-1 at Etihad Stadium. It was City’s ninth straight win at home this season, but the visitors had plenty of reasons to feel hard done by given a goal was disallowed due to an incorrect offside call and they were denied a late penalty shout.
The Sky Blues have been perfect at home this season, and Chelsea has been close enough to it, dropping just two points in nine starts at Stamford Bridge. It’s almost as stern an examination as you can get playing these two teams back-to-back in the space of a few days, but if Liverpool can maintain the quality it showed in Manchester, it could be the first team to knock Mourinho’s team off in west London this campaign. The loss to City ended up a four-match winning streak, albeit against ordinary or out-of-form opposition.
Chelsea got through its first big challenge of the Festive Season when it held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw at the Emirates. Mourinho’s men sat back and absorbed pressure throughout the match, and in the end probably had the best opportunities. It was a typically pragmatic approach from the Portuguese manager, but it didn’t stop him from labelling the Gunners “boring” after the match. Eden Hazard’s goal pushed his side past Swansea City 1-0 midweek but it was surprising not to see the Londoners put more past a weakened Welsh side.
There have been plenty of goals in recent matches between these teams, including the 2-2 draw when they last met at Anfield. That match will be best remembered for the incident when Luis Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic, and you can bet there will be plenty of feeling in this one with Chelsea and the fans at the Bridge doing everything possible to unsettle Liverpool’s in-form marksman. The Merseyside club has won two on two of its last three visits to the ground and held on for a 1-1 draw last season. Liverpool has been the first to score in 13 of their 18 matches and Brendan Rogers’ side has been in front at half-time in the same number of games. Chelsea has scored in every home game so far and the Reds have found the back of the net in eight of their nine away clashes.
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