The Premier League landscape has changed dramatically since Liverpool and Chelsea last met.
Liverpool defeated Chelsea 2-1 on Sept. 16, with the result fueling the Reds’ early season hopes for success and sending the Blues toward their low point. But Chelsea twisted the plot with a surge to the top of the standings in the ensuing months, leaving Liverpool and other rivals in its wake.
The Reds now are hoping to close its distance behind Chelsea, and the teams will face off Tuesday at Anfield. The game will represent a significant marker in the 2016-17 campaign.
We’ll cover the Reds-Blues clash in full, so let’s preview it.
Liverpool can’t afford to lose. It’s that simple.
A Chelsea victory would open up a 13-point gap between the teams with just 15 games remaining in 2016-17. Chelsea won’t be able to clinch the Premier League title with three points, but defeating fourth-place Liverpool would neutralize one of the last teams standing in its way of reclaiming the crown.
The Reds’ 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Jan. 15 was a blow to their title hopes. A loss against Chelsea would be all but fatal to Liverpool’s championship dreams, while a draw would keep them on life support.
Liverpool has been slumping in 2017, winning only one (drawing three and losing four) of eight games this year in all competitions. The slide has dimmed the early excitement over the Reds’ prospects, and their current three-game skid at Anfield has sparked whispers of crisis.
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, is responsible for reversing his team’s fortunes, and his track record against the Premier League’s other powers suggests he might be able to do so.
The Reds are banking on Sadio Mane’s return from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations to ignite their attack. The Senegalese winger has missed the club’s last seven games and rushed back to England immediately after his nation’s elimination form the tournament. He probably won’t start against Chelsea, but the Reds will welcome his impact even in a limited role.
Playmaker Adam Lallana is likely to feature for Liverpool, but defender Nathaniel Clyne is unexpected to play due to an ongoing problem with his ribs.
Chelsea’s Asmir Begovic and Branislav Ivanovic appear to be on their way out of Stamford Bridge, as Tuesday’s transfer deadline approaches. Don’t expect to see them in the Blues’ squad at Anfield.
1-1. Liverpool will up its attacking game and tighten its defense, but Chelsea will manage to score.
Thumbnail photo via LiverpoolFC.com