Liverpool Vs Chelsea - English Premier League - Sunday 14th April 16:30 - Match Preview
After playing in Europe midweek focus turns back to the race for the Premier League title and what could be a pivotal weekend in deciding who will lift the trophy at the end of the season. Manchester City suffered a defeat at Wembley midweek and are back in London against a side who have already taken 3 points from them this season when they visit Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, Liverpool host Chelsea at Anfield. A fixture that is sure to arouse painful memories of Reds fans from the last time they were involved in a title race. In 2014 it was this fixture where Steven Gerrard famously slipped allowing Demba Ba to score costing Liverpool 3 points and allowing City to go ahead and ultimately lift the trophy.
Liverpool warmed up for this with a 2-0 victory against Porto, Andy Robertson missed the game through suspension but is surely set to make an instant return to the starting lineup. Dejan Lovren made a return and did well and it's still too soon to expect to see the return of Gomez so it will be between Lovren and Matip, I suspect that Matip is likely to be recalled. Jurgen Klopp has plenty of options now when it comes to midfield and with Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita both enjoying a current streak of good form it is likely they will both start with Fabinho in the holding role. There are no doubts about who will feature in attack with the main trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino all certain to start.
Maurizio Sarri made a number of changes for his sides 0-1 win against Slavia Prague on Thursday with the Chelsea manager citing tiredness as the reason. It is almost certain that he will bring them all back into the side for the game at Anfield as Chelsea look to hang on to their place inside the top 4 to qualify for next seasons Champions League. The most notable exemption for Thursdays lineup was Belgian superstar Eden Hazard, he came off the bench in the 2nd half to help seal the victory and with 16 goals in the league so far this season including a stunning double recently against West Ham it is impossible to imagine him not starting on Sunday. Higuain, Kante, Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz are all likely to be recalled too however there are suggestions exciting youngster Hudson-Odoi may be left out again.
In the reverse fixture earlier in the season Liverpool dropped their first points of the season following a 1-1 draw, it could have been even worse as the point was salvaged by a last-minute wonder strike from Daniel Sturridge after Hazard had given Chelsea an early lead. The sides had met just days earlier in the League Cup which saw Chelsea leave Anfield with a 2-1 win, the only defeat Liverpool have suffered at home in all competitions this season. Once again Hazard was on the scoresheet as it was his winner 5 minutes from time which decided the game.
It seems pretty clear that if Liverpool wants to exercise the demons from 2014 and beat Chelsea then they will need to keep Hazard quiet, but given what we saw from him against West Ham last Monday you have to question if that is even possible.