Liverpool welcome title favourites Chelsea to Anfield on Tuesday night, in what is set to be one of the biggest matches in the Premier League this season. Chelsea arrive in Liverpool sitting 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League and 10 points clear of fourth-place Liverpool. If Jurgen Klopp’s team are to have any hope of winning the title this season, they must surely win this match.
There is no doubt, the start to 2017 has been a period to forget for Liverpool. Prior to the turn of the year, Liverpool were undefeated at home and with more home games than away remaining in the Premier League, everyone at the club was confident of something special happening this season. However, having played four matches at Anfield in 2017, Liverpool are yet to win one. Not only that but they have lost the last three, against teams they would have expected to defeat. The loss at home to Swansea in the Premier League and Southampton in the League Cup semi-final were especially hard to take.
Chelsea on the other hand, have shown great consistency this season and having suffered a defeat at Tottenham earlier this year, they have responded very well, winning all four of the games which followed. Antonio Conte’s team have conceded just one goal in those four matches and the Italian will be relying on his defence to do a job on Liverpool’s struggling forward line.
In terms of team news, both Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana are expected to recover from injury to take their place in the Liverpool starting XI. Philippe Coutinho should be sharper having had more minutes under his belt but the game will probably come too soon for Sadio Mane, who could be on the bench following his return from the African Cup of Nations. Chelsea do not have any injury concerns and there shouldn’t be any surprises in Conte’s team selection for this game.
Chelsea are undefeated in their last four visits to Anfield in the Premier League, winning two and drawing two and this is a record Liverpool need to put straight. Having seen Tottenham change their shape to match Chelsea’s when they beat them at White Hart Lane, will Klopp do something similar? Given the team he played against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup at the weekend, Klopp clearly had his focus on the Chelsea match and preparations may have been underway for close to a week.
Tottenham pressed Chelsea hard in that game, something which Liverpool are clearly capable of doing. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli came inside when out of possession and pressured the Chelsea midfield and when in possession, Eriksen found space between the lines and caused Chelsea problems. If Coutinho can find similar space, he can cause the same damage as Eriksen and create chances for Liverpool. Cesar Azpilicueta is a good defender but can be beaten in the air, with good attacking runs at the far post, something Roberto Firmino can do. David Luiz and Gary Cahill have received praise this season but when put under pressure, both are capable of mistakes and suffering lapses in concentration, something Liverpool can take advantage of in this game.
Being out of form, if Liverpool can match Chelsea and nullify their system, Coutinho can win the game, much like Eriksen did for Tottenham. Having defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, Klopp may feel he doesn’t have to change the shape of the team but given the current form, there may be some changes tactically, which will hopefully give Liverpool the edge over Chelsea.
Liverpool need to put in a strong performance today, and hopefully it will be a good enough to win the game against the current league leaders.
Checkout Jurgen Klopps Pre Match Press Conference Below.