24 November 2017

Liverpool v Chelsea 11.25.17

12:30pm ET, live in the US on NBC

Last four head-to-head:
1-1 (h) 01.31.17
2-1 Liverpool (a) 09.16.16
1-1 (h) 05.11.16
3-1 Liverpool (a) 10.31.15

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-3 Sevilla (a); 3-0 Southampton (h); 4-1 West Ham (a)
Chelsea: 4-0 Qarabag (a); 4-0 West Brom (a); 1-0 United (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Salah 9; Coutinho, Firmino, Mané 3; Sturridge 2; Alex O-C, Henderson, Matip, Wijnaldum 1
Chelsea: Morata 8; Alonso, Hazard 3; Batshuayi, Pedro 2; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Kante, Luiz 1

Referee: Michael Oliver (LFC History) (WhoScored)

Guess at a line-up:
Mignolet
Gomez Lovren Klavan Moreno
Wijnaldum Henderson Coutinho
Salah Firmino Mané

Mignolet for Karius aside, I wouldn't be surprised to see the same side which did things at Sevilla. Good things and bad things. You remember the things.

Both Matip and Lallana are training, but I don't expect either to start. Matip, just given how short his absence has been, is more likely, but Stoke on Wednesday is a better bet. And, limiting Liverpool's options for changing what was a very bad midfield on Tuesday, Emre Can's questionable with a minor muscle injury.

And yes, "same again" includes keeping Alberto Moreno in the starting XI. A bad 15 minutes against your former club doesn't and shouldn't rule out everything that came before. Maybe Milner's a "safer" option but Milner's not a long-term option. Moreno's gotta play through this, because Chelsea at home is not the time for Andrew Robertson to make his first start in two months. But I will perpetually remain afraid of Liverpool defenders with a point to prove, even more than I'm already perpetually afraid of Liverpool defenders.

I guess there's a chance Liverpool will play the 4-4-2 we saw at West Ham, considering who's available and Chelsea's likely shape, but I'm not all that expectant. Regardless, it'd be the same XI, but with Firmino and Salah central and Mané and Coutinho wide. And I remain concerned about Coutinho's tracking back when deployed wide, especially in a formation that encourages the opposition to attack.

And Chelsea, even though they're managed by Antonio Conte, even though they play three at the back, even though they're still Chelsea, will attack. Maybe more heavily on the counter, but they'll present problems. They've won six of their last seven, including the last two away from home by a 4-0 scoreline. Only Roma, the lone loss since October 14, held Chelsea scoreless over the last five weeks. It's probably not coincidence that Chelsea were without N'Golo Kante in that match.

Chances are that Chelsea's XI will be familiar, although they had much more license to rotate in the midweek Champions League match. But both of the last two league matches – 1-0 v United, 4-0 at West Brom – saw the same 3-5-1-1 line-up. Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Fabregas, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard; Morata.

Maybe Rüdiger or David Luiz comes in for Zappacosta, with Azpilicueta as the wing-back in a slightly more defensive set-up. 3-4-3 is also an option with Willian or Pedro coming in for one of the three central midfielders; Willian scored twice midweek at Qarabag, with one set up by Pedro. Batshuayi is out injured, while Moses has only recently returned and is likely to be on the bench at best.

There are two ways to look at Liverpool's recent record against Chelsea. It's good! Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five against last season's league winners. It's kind of frightening! Liverpool haven't won against Chelsea at Anfield since May 2012, a 4-1 win with Chelsea all but asleep after beating Liverpool in the FA Cup final a few days earlier.

Sevilla has to be forgotten. That collapse cannot affect Liverpool as past collapses have; 0-5 at City followed by a seven-match run where Liverpool won just once. The ideal would be the response to losing 1-4 at Tottenham, rattling off four complete wins before last Tuesday happened, even if none of those wins came against a side with the talent that Chelsea has.

Sevilla can't be forgotten. This was not Liverpool's first multiple-goal collapse, even if it was Liverpool's first in a while. It probably won't be the last. But it needs to be the last, at least for a while. This side has still scored at least three goals in its last five games. This side had kept clean sheets in three of the previous four matches (and five of the previous seven), with no team attempting more than six shots, in the games before Sevilla.

Last season, Liverpool went unbeaten against their top-six rivals. This season, Liverpool have one win, one draw, and two humiliating losses. They are, however, still unbeaten at Anfield. They have, however, still conceded just one league goal at Anfield.

Chelsea currently sit third, three points ahead of Liverpool in fifth. Three points are available tomorrow. Chelsea have Liverpool's points and Liverpool's place. Liverpool need to go get them.

1 comment :

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