A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s home tie against Liverpool.
This weekend sees Chelsea host European Cup finalists Liverpool on Sunday at Stamford Bridge in a direct confrontation between 2 sides hoping to finish the season in the top 4.
It is The Blues’s first home match since their disappointing 1-1 home draw to West Ham. However, Antonio Conte’s side have played and won all 4 matches in their travels since and will go into this match with the belief that they can continue their run of results.
Marcos Alonso will be back available after his 3 match suspension and Antonio Conte will probably reinstate him immediately. This will be fairly harsh on Emerson Palmieri who has deputised very commendably on the left flank during Alonso’s absence, but the manager will opt for the reassurance of one of his most effective players in the team, especially after the over worked Spaniard will have endured his enforced holiday and had a well earned rest.
Otherwise we can expect few to no other changes to Conte’s starting line up. The Italian will keep with a 3-5-2 with Olivier Giroud leading the line and Eden Hazard in support. But Liverpool are a very different proposition than Swansea.
Where The Swans focused more on defence and worked hard to keep The Blues out, Liverpool will play on the front foot. They have what is probably the most potent attack in Europe and always work to utilise that. A lot of their forward play goes to the right for Mohamed Salah to taunt the defence.
The visitors will be without defenders Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, while midfielders Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also miss out. On Wednesday evening Jurgen Klopp’s side successfully survived a late fight back from Roma to earn their place in this season’s Champions League Final against Real Madrid.
The mental and physical effort required may take its toll on The Reds but Conte’s side mustn’t rely on this. After all, Liverpool will have their tails up and will arrive at Stamford Bridge believing they can out score any side – they were the first team to beat this season’s Champions Manchester City in the league.
With a victory for The Blues putting them within 3 points of the visitors with a game at home to Huddersfield in hand, this match will be classed as a must win by Conte. His players will certainly be focused and determined to get the result as they close in on an unlikely Champions League berth themselves.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue