Match Preview – Liverpool vs Chelsea

Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool (L) and Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea. Chelsea and Liverpool meet in a Premier League match on September 29,2018 at Stamford Bridge in London. Photo by Getty Images.
Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool (L) and Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea. Chelsea and Liverpool meet in a Premier League match on September 29,2018 at Stamford Bridge in London. Photo by Getty Images.

Liverpool host Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday in undeniably the biggest game of the weekend in the Premier League.

With Liverpool sitting top of the league, two points ahead of Manchester City, they know they cannot afford to drop points between now and the end of the season.

This clash with Chelsea is among their biggest potential banana skins and one they’ll hope not to slip up in. Even more so given the history of this fixture.

Chelsea can also ill afford a defeat having put themselves back in contention for a top-four finish in recent weeks.

Maurizio Sarri’s side have found their form at the perfect time and now sit third and three points clear of Arsenal in fifth.

The battle for the top four is likely to be as tight as the one for the title, though, and defeat at Anfield could prove to be a hammer blow at this late stage of the season.

Team News

Andy Robertson, who was forced to miss the win over Porto in midweek through suspension, will return for this game.

Jurgen Klopp has no new injury concerns but will have to make a decision on whether to stick with Dejan Lovren or return Joe Gomez to the heart of his defence.

Chelsea will likely bring back Eden Hazard, with the Belgian having started the win over Slavia Prague on the bench.

Emerson Palmieri faces a late fitness test but other than that, Sarri has a fully fit squad to choose from for the trip to Anfield.

What the managers said

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool looks on ahead of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford on February 24, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 24: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool looks on ahead of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford on February 24, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp’s focus was on Chelsea’s star man Eden Hazard after his match-winning display against West Ham on Monday.

“We will take 13 players, and two will play only against Eden!” he said.

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It’s not often that someone in Liverpool’s defence has outshone Virgil van Dijk this season, but Joel Matip certainly did that in the win over Cardiff City.

“The best way to try to make sure that he cannot shine is to avoid passes to him React a little bit better than other teams did.

“It’s not easy, because when he has the ball, it’s already too late. You try to read the game, read the passes. But in the end, in a one-vs-one situation, you cannot defend him. You need help from somewhere else.

“I like footballers like this. If he plays his best game, we have to deal with that. And if we can make sure they cannot play as they usually do, that’s good for us.”

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LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 03: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge on April 03, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Maurizio Sarri, meanwhile, was pleased with his side’s ability to suffer but still beat Slavia Prague on Thursday.

“In the past, we were not able to suffer in the difficult moments of a match,” he said.

“Now we are able to stay in trouble and suffer without conceding.”

Stats

The history books favour Chelsea for this one. They’ve only lost two of their last 16 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions.

Likewise, Liverpool haven’t won any of their last six Premier League meetings against Chelsea at Anfield.

Chelsea, though, have never won twice at Anfield in a single campaign and they won there earlier this year in the Carabao Cup.

Having said all that, Chelsea’s form away to the top six is not great. They’ve lost their last five games away to their top six rivals.

This game is sure to be a battle of the forwards. Roberto Firmino has seven goals in six home games for Liverpool while no player has had a hand in more Premier League goals than Eden Hazard this season.