Can Chelsea Win at Anfield Again?
Premiership Tips preview this weekend’s tasty Premier League clash between Liverpool and Chelsea.
Written by Premiership Tips.
Following three wins on the trot, Roy Hodgson is experiencing his best spell in charge of Liverpool, albeit after just 10 Premier League games. Back-to-back victories over Blackburn and Bolton respectively have helped fans forget their tragic home loss at the hands of Blackpool at the start of last month.
With new owners on board and only a couple of points outside of the top half and a couple more short of European places, it’s time for Liverpool FC supporters to start being optimistic again. Optimistic until you realise you’re facing Chelsea this weekend.
Unlucky No. 13
Liverpool currently sit in 13th position in the Premier League table; 13 points behind this weekend’s opposition Chelsea. Of the top sides they’ve faced so far this season, only Arsenal have paid a visit to Anfield. They relied on a Jose Reina foul up to come away with a point from that game. But Liverpool performances were to fall immediately after that game. It was followed up with a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City, and they’ve also been to their arch-enemies Manchester United and lost 3-2 their also. Even with the turn in form in recent weeks, it’s hard to see a change in fortune this weekend when they face another of the top 4.
Chelsea let John Terry watch from the bench on Wednesday night as Chelsea cruised to a 4-1 victory over Spartak Moscow to see them qualify from the Champions League group stage with two games to spare. Nicolas Anelka continued his fine form with a fine finish to open the scoring, before Didier Drogba slotted home a penalty and Branislav Ivanovic added an extra two. Yes, Branislav Ivanovic added an extra two.
The Serbian also scored the winner at Ewood Park last weekend. His first goals for the club came against Liverpool in a Champions League quarter final match up in April 2009 when he headed in twice as Chelsea won 3-1 at Anfield in the first leg. He has a knack of getting onto the end of crosses and with his recent form will no doubt get the attention of the camera man at set plays on Sunday.
Chelsea were criticised by the pundits for their poor defending of set pieces last season. While I still think Petr Cech is a liability, the departure of Ricardo Carvalho has certainly helped them. And with the big presence of Ivanovic, Didier Drogba, Alex and John Terry back defending, they make themselves hard to beat in the air. Going forward those players could also be a great threat if the deliveries of the set pieces were better than they were last weekend. Drogba the culprit. Jamie Carragher is notoriously hopeless in the air, while Liverpool’s defending of set pieces this season has been a concern.
Attack versus Defence
Didier Drogba is Chelsea’s main focus up front. The Ivorian had looked off his game since returning from flu, but managed to setup Nicolas Anelka’s equaliser on Saturday, before putting in a better performance midweek. Up for the big games, expect Drogba to give Carragher and co a torrid time Sunday.
Nicolas Anelka is another player in fine form this season. The French forward scored for the first time in seven Premier League games last weekend, before scoring his 5th Champions League goal in 4 games midweek. Anelka should have plenty of success running at Paul Konchesky and into the penalty area from the right wing. Whether it results in a shot on goal, a chance to setup a team mate or a penalty, the consequences are in Chelsea’s favour.
On the opposite flank is Florent Malouda. Anelka’s fellow countryman has 7 Premier League goals already this season, but only 1 of them on the road. A good player on the counter attack to run with the ball in open space and setup a team mate, Malouda’s goals usually come inside the penalty area. A number of tap ins to his name already this season, expect Malouda to find space in the Liverpool box on Sunday.
Michael Essien enjoys a shot from long range, John Obi Mikel doesn’t score and Ramires hasn’t for Chelsea yet. If Chelsea’s three main attacking players can’t get amongst the goalscorers, and no one does from set pieces, then there’s always super sub Salomon Kalou to get in on the act. Or Jamie Carragher to add to his tally of own goals!
Home versus Away
Not to write Liverpool out of this match, they enter this match with one of the hottest strikers in the world (well, when he’s fit anyone) and a passionate captain who enters this game off the back of a hat trick from a second half appearance midweek. Provided Roy Hodgson doesn’t deploy Steven Gerrard in a holding role and play for a 0-0, Steven Gerrard is Liverpool’s greatest attacking threat while Fernando Torres goes in search of his form. Long range shooting ability, a player who creates chances for himself and making unmanned runs into the penalty area, Steven Gerrard is capable of scoring on Sunday.
While Thursday was a one man show, Steven Gerrard is going to need help from his team mates. Fernando Torres may not be at his best, but is still capable of conjuring something up. And he demands attention too, which will allow one of his team mates some space. Outside of that, Raul Meireles hasn’t got himself into the goalscoring positions he has for FC Porto and Portugal by making the occasional late burst into the box. David N’Gog hasn’t found his shooting boots domestically. Ryan Babel isn’t getting much of a chance under Hodgson. And Dirk Kuyt is injured. Where are Liverpool’s goals going to come from? Joe Cole? Maxi Rodriguez got the late winner last weekend, while Sotirios Kyrgiakos is the club’s joint-second top scorer with 2 goals. And should the Greek play, look for Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka expose and win free kicks off him by running at and around the large defender.
Interestingly, Chelsea’s odds were better heading into this match when they essentially had to win to win the league. They were never going to fail then. With Liverpool’s change of fortune, the absence of Frank Lampard and Chelsea already with a healthy cushion at the top of the Premier League, may they slip up on Sunday? I think they’ll take the 3 points in a game that I expect to be fiercely contested. Chelsea are good value to win at odds-against on Betfair.
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