EPL: Can The Reds Give 'Em The Blues?

Liverpool vs Chelsea
English Premier League
Anfield, Liverpool
Sunday, 7th November 2010
16:00 BST (+1 GMT)


The most decorated club in English football take on arguably the most feared when wounded giants Liverpool take on the almost infallible footballing entity that is Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

The two clubs, who have met a staggering 26 times over the past six seasons, have shared vastly different fortunes over the the course of the last two years, with Liverpool threatening to crumble on several occasions as Chelsea’s stranglehold on the Premier League continues to tighten, but even so the rivalry (once stoked by the Mourinho/Benitez axis of ire) is still as fervent as it ever was.

Things are undeniably looking up for beleaguered Liverpool of late considering their woeful start to the campaign, with their newly-installed owners overseeing a steady reversal in their ailing fortunes.

However, it would be distinctly unwise to suggest that, after just three back-to-back victories (two of them by a single-goal margin, and one thanks to an astounding second-half hat-trick from captain Steven Gerrard), the club is anywhere close to being fully restored to the familiar rude health of old. Six points taken from Bolton and Blackburn do not a summer make.

Chelsea are clear five points ahead of the chasing pack going into the weekend’s bout of games, having surrendered just five points from their first ten Premier League games, suffering just one defeat in the process – at the hands of the pretenders to their throne, Manchester City.

After suggestions of slight vulnerability began to permeate the public consciousness, Carlo Ancelotti‘s side then recovered to secure a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in their most recent game, with in-form striker Nicolas Anelka scoring his ninth goal of the season before duly bagging his tenth in the Champions League midweek.

Last five Premier League meetings:

02/05/10, Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea, Anfield
04/10/09, Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool, Stamford Bridge
01/02/09, Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea, Anfield
26/10/08, Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool, Stamford Bridge
10/02/08, Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool, Stamford Bridge

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes that, despite Chelsea’s domestic dominance, his side still have a chance of providing an upset.

“I dont think any team is unstoppable — I think all teams however good they are are stoppable, they will have bad days and lose matches. You hope come Sunday they might not have one of their better days or, by contrast, we have one of our better days and cause them plenty of problems.”

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba isn’t quite sure what to expect from his opponents.

“We are seeing a different Liverpool than the one from earlier in the season. They have won their last [three] matches and their confidence is getting higher. We have to be careful. Since I’ve been [at Chelsea, playing against] Liverpool has been special and it’s always a difficult game. We’re going there to win but it’s not going to be easy.”

Injuries

Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of striker David N’Gog, who was subjected to a horrendous (yet somehow unpunished) tackle from Napoli’s Salvatore Aronica during their Europa League victory on Thursday night – amidst fears that the Frenchman may have fractured his shin. Hodgson will definitely have to make do without Joe Cole (hamstring) and Fabio Aurelio (groin), although Dirk Kuyt (ankle), Daniel Agger (calf) and Ryan Babel (rib) may all recover sufficiently to play some part in the tie.

The headline omission from Chelsea’s squad will no doubt be that of Florent Malouda who is struggling with the ankle injury sustained at Blackburn last week. However, stalwart midfielder Frank Lampard may be fit enough to effectively take the French winger’s place (although a place on the bench is much more likely) after spending the last two months on the sidelines with a groin problem.

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