30 October 2015

Liverpool at Chelsea 10.31.15

8:45am ET, live in the US on NBC Sports

Last four head-to-head:
1-1 (a) 05.10.15
0-1 (a; League Cup) 01.27.15
1-1 (h; League Cup) 11.08.14
1-2 (h) 04.27.14

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-0 Bournemouth (h); 1-1 Southampton (h); 1-1 Kazan (h)
Chelsea: 1-1 Stoke aet [4-5 pens] (a); 1-2 West Ham (a); 0-0 Dynamo Kiev (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Benteke 3; Ings, Sturridge 2; Coutinho, Milner 1
Chelsea: Costa, Willian 2; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Falcao, Matic, Oscar, Pedro, Ramires, Zouma 1

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Skrtel Sakho Moreno
Milner Lucas Can
Lallana Coutinho

Benteke's available, so I'd be surprised if Liverpool deviated from what's become the "usual" XI. 4-3-2-1, the settled back four; Milner, Lucas, and Can in midfield; Coutinho and Lallana behind the lone striker.

I guess there are a couple other options. Maybe Benteke's available, but not fit enough to start. If that's the case, I suspect it'll be Firmino up front rather than Origi, even though the former played almost 90 minutes on Wednesday, his first start since an injury against Carlisle five weeks ago. He still provides more experience, more guile, and, most likely, a better chance of goals than the young Belgian, especially if Liverpool are forced to play on the counter.

Or maybe Liverpool stick with the 4-2-3-1-ish formation we saw against Bournemouth: Firmino (central) or Milner (on the right) in the line of three behind Benteke, with Lucas and Can as a deeper midfield pair, matching what'll almost certainly be Chelsea's starting formation.

Regardless of formation, we should see a more emphatic press than against Southampton or Bournemouth, with a strong XI that have had at least a bit of rest. Liverpool will be compact, but Liverpool – away from home against a team, regardless of record or form, that's still quite dangerous – will also look to counter more and will have less possession than we've seen in Klopp's previous matches.

Tottenham is probably the template. A quick, furious start away from home, fueled by the counter-press, but settling into a deeper routine as the match goes on, whether or not Liverpool take advantage of any prospective good start.

And a good start remains vital. Right now, Chelsea are a wounded animal. And you really don't want to give a wounded animal a respite.

Chelsea, to put it mildly, have not had the best of times lately. They've won just once in the last seven matches, a 2-0 home win over a dismal Aston Villa. They're 15th in the league. They've three points less than Liverpool, a Liverpool that fired its manager few weeks ago. Their top scorer – well, joint, both Costa and Willian – has just two goals. They've conceded 19 goals through 10 matches; only Bournemouth, Newcastle, and Norwich have let it more. It took 22 matches for Chelsea to concede 19 goals last season, not happening until mid-January.

They have been, to put it bluntly, a bad football side. Of course, that doesn't usually matter when facing Liverpool.

I will readily admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed all the karmic justice dished out to Mourinho et al since August. And I am fully expecting to pay for that gloating tomorrow.

Costa and Pedro will undergo late fitness tests, while Courtois and Ivanovic definitely out injured. Assuming both that are questionable start, Chelsea will be Begovic; Zouma, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Pedro, Willian, Hazard; Costa. If Pedro's out, Fabregas higher up the pitch with Ramires or Mikel in midfield, or Oscar in a central attacking role with Willian on the right, or Ramires on the right. If Costa's out, Remy or, less likely, Falcao in a straight swap. Maybe it'll be Azpilicueta at right-back with new signing Baba Rahman at left-back. Maybe, with Matic clearly off form, it'll be Fabregas and Mikel or Ramires and Mikel in midfield.

Chelsea, unsurprisingly, still have options. It's just that few of those options have worked out this season. As per usual, their biggest threats will come from set plays and counter-attacks.

Brendan Rodgers never beat Chelsea as Liverpool manager, with four draws and four losses in league and League Cup matches. Jürgen Klopp has a reasonable opportunity to do so in his first match. It seems to be an ideal time to face Chelsea. Or, as ideal a time as there is to face Chelsea.

Of course, it's much easier said than done.


Anonymous said...

Mourinho and Clattenburg certainly have plenty of priors. It'll be interesting to see how this works out. My money is on Clattenburg.

Moreno will have to get forward to put plenty of pressure on Zouma, who struggles profusely as a right back.

Costa's ribs will not be in the best of shape after being clattered by Charlie Adam on Tuesday.Skrtel and Can, who got stamped on by Costa last year can invoke a bit of retribution. Hello Diego. How have you been son. Arsenal Wenger approved this message! Gabriel too.

The Stoke game on Tuesday was played at a rip roaring pace for 120 minutes. Before Hazard got stuffed on his shit penalty. Hazard, Willian, Oscar, Mikel, Terry, Cahill and Zouma all played the full 120 minutes. Ramires played 80. We have to make those guys run and cause their legs to fall off in the 2nd half.

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