It has simply been a 2017 to forget so far for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Out of the FA cup, out of the EFL Cup and a recent loss to Swansea City at Anfield denting their title charge. In trith, their season is now at a crossroads. Tuesday’s fixture has the potential to completely end their season as a loss surely signifies the end of their title challenge, if it hasn’t ended already. For Chelsea, it’s just another step on the road to the title and they’ll want to ignore the ocassion and focus solely on the task at hand.
LAST TIME OUT
LIVERPOOL 1-2 Wolves
After defeats at home to Swansea in the league and Southampton in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, a welcome win against Championship outfit Wolves would of been great importance for the Reds. However, it was not the case as Wolves surprised the Premier league side. Richard Stearman put the away side in front after just 53 seconds, before Andreas Weimann double the lead. Belgian striker Divock Origi grabbed a late consolation, but it was too little too late as Liverpool struggled to break down a packed defence and looked vulnerable against the counter-attack.
CHELSEA 4-0 Brentford
From start to finish, it was an easy afternoon for Chelsea. First, Willian put the hosts deservedly in front, before in-form Pedro doubled the lead. Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic made it 3-0 in what could be his last Chelsea appearance, before Michy Batshuayi rounded off the tie.
Roberto Firmino, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum are set to keep their places in the starting XI, while the likes of James Milner, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana are set tor return. Nathaniel Clyne is still absent with a rib injury, whilst the game likely comes too soon for Sadio Mane.
Costa and Eden Hazard are set to return to the starting XI, as well as the likes of Thibaut Courtois, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, N’Golo Kante and Marcos Alonso.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Under the stewardship of Conte, Costa has imporved as a striker from last season. Of players to have made 20+ Premier League appearances, Diego Costa has scored in the highest proportion of games (55.4% – 41/74) and Costa has scored in 15 of his last 21 Premier League matches (16 goals in total). His form has been pivotal to Chelsea’s rise to the top and if he turns up, it’s plain sailing for the Blues.
Klopp against the big teams
When it comes to big games, Klopp thrives on the occasion, having great success. Klopp has lost just one of his 14 Premier League meetings with the other ‘big six’ teams (Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal). He’s won six and drawn seven of these matches. This season alone, Liverpool have usually played well against the big sides; it’s against those below them where they really struggle. Perhaps Klopp’s mainly a man for the big moments?
The return of Mane
After Senegal were knocked out of the AFCON, Klopp is despereate to get Sadio Mane back in time for Tuesday night’s game. Liverpool have picked up one point in the three Premier League games that Sadio Mane has missed this season (D1 L2). The Senegalese forward has been involved in 13 goals for the Reds in the league this season (nine goals, four assists) and his movement and combination with Coutinho and Firmino has been alomst unplayable at times.
PREDICTION: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea
Liverpool will be looking to defeat Chelsea both home and away in the same Premier League season for the first time since 2011-12, however, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four Premier League trips to Anfield (W2 D2 L0), last losing there in May 2012. Nevertheless, a Liverpool win could be in the reckoning. The odds are completely stacked in Chelsea’s favour, but sometimes it’s in these backs-to-the-wall games where a team’s true quality shines. Klopp is a man for the big moments and if there’s anyway that can inspire a win, it’s him.