05 May 2018

Liverpool at Chelsea 05.06.18

11:30am ET, live in the US on NBC Sports

Last four head-to-head:
1-1 (h) 11.25.17
1-1 (h) 01.31.17
2-1 Liverpool (a) 09.16.16
1-1 (h) 05.11.16

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-4 Roma (a); 0-0 Stoke (h); 5-2 Roma (h)
Chelsea: 1-0 Swansea (a); 2-0 Southampton (h); 2-1 Burnley (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Salah 31; Firmino 15; Mané 10; Coutinho 7; Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain 3; Sturridge 2; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Ings, Klavan, Lovren, Matip, Wijnaldum 1
Chelsea: Hazard 12; Morata 11; Alonso, Willian 6; Pedro 4; Moses 3; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Batshuayi, Fabregas, Giroud, Rudiger 2; Drinkwater, Kanté, Luiz, Zappacosta 1

Referee: Anthony Taylor (LFCHistory) (WhoScored)

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Lovren van Dijk Robertson
Wijnaldum Henderson Milner
Salah Firmino Mané

So it's been a fairly uneventful week. Just another wild-ass Champions League semi-final where Liverpool conceded four and won the tie and secured a spot in the final in three weeks' time. Its first Champions League final in 11 years. A match that took years off our lives, and probably the players' lives.

And after a match like that in Rome, you'd think Liverpool would rotate its side. You'd almost certainly be wrong.

Liverpool could really use a result here. A win makes top four certain. A point makes it all but certain. Chelsea have been good lately, Chelsea always give Liverpool a difficult match. But more importantly, Liverpool don't really have rotation options.

Maybe Lallana and Can make it back before the end of the season. But they ain't back yet. Matip and Oxlade-Chamberlain are assuredly out for the final three games. Gomez is out too, at least for one more week. Liverpool have no other fit central midfielders, and Liverpool have seen a massive drop-off when they've rotated the back four or, more importantly, the front three.

So, really, the only changes I can see is Clyne or Moreno coming in at full-back. And I wouldn't be surprised if neither happen. Had Liverpool already secured top four, maybe we get something crazy, maybe we get 4-4-2 or three-at-the-back or Solanke or Ings or Woodburn, etc. But since they haven't we probably won't. We probably shouldn't.

Gotta get this.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last five matches, not only making the top four race a lot closer than is comfortable, but they're also into the FA Cup final for the second season in a row. They're peaking at the right-ish time, after a fairly disappointing campaign. But that's been Chelsea of in recent years. Win the league. Then get weird. Have players disappoint, have problems with the manager. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But they're still Chelsea. They're still a pain in the rear. It's not going to be a high-line 3-4-3, which Liverpool often feast upon, but a disciplined, well-positioned, fairly deep defense reliant on the wing-backs, Willian, Hazard, and either Giroud or Morata to counter. Something like Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rutiger; Moses, Kanté, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard; Giroud. And they're fairly healthy, especially considering both the time of the season; David Luiz the only player missing through injury.

This fixture's almost always seen goals, but not a ton of them; both teams have scored in eight of the last nine meetings. But either side has scored more than once in just three of those nine, with five ending in 1-1 draws, including three of Klopp's five meetings.

I'd be more than happy with a 1-1 draw tomorrow, a result that all but ensures Liverpool will be in next season's Champions League. But we've also seen what happens when Liverpool play for a draw, play for damage control. You saw it on Wednesday, kind of. This team only knows how to play one way. Or, better put, this team only knows how to succeed one way. Score goals. Attack. Do Liverpool.

Go get this.

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