Chelsea v Liverpool: Preview 29th December
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Chelsea midfielder Ramires received his fifth yellow card of the season against Swansea and will serve a one-match suspension.
Manager Jose Mourinho will rotate his squad, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta is likely to return in place of Ashley Cole and Fernando Torres could start.
Liverpool’s Jon Flanagan could again be absent with a hamstring problem. Steven Gerrard, Jose Enrique and Daniel Sturridge remain out until the new year.
The appearance of Luis Suarez at Stamford Bridge is certain to provoke the home fans into a chorus of disapproval, though we honestly believe that the Uruguayan is one of those players who’d be disappointed not to be booed by opposition fans.
Every photographer will have a lens ready to capture any tasty exchanges between the Liverpool striker and Branislav Ivanovic.
In contrast, Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers are likely to indulge in a display of mutual admiration based on the fact that the latter was first youth, and then reserve-team manager, at Chelsea when the former was in charge at the Bridge for the first time.
Rodgers’ Liverpool side emerged with plenty of credit in their game at Manchester City but with no points, so avoiding defeat at Stamford Bridge is crucial.
The league is so tight that the Liverpool team which was top at Christmas could be out of the top four by New Year!!!!
Liverpool should be encouraged that they have lost just one of their last eight games against Chelsea, though they’d have preferred that defeat not to have been in the FA Cup final.
This game should be a personal landmark for John Terry, who will make his 600th Chelsea appearance – assuming he plays. Only Ron Harris, Peter Bonetti and Frank Lampard have made more.
It will also be a 150th game for Chelsea for Fernando Torres; that’s eight more appearances than he made for Liverpool, but he’s scored 40 fewer goals for the Blues than he did for the Reds.
Scoring is Chelsea’s big difficulty. Samuel Eto’o has been putting in performances which add considerable weight to the theory that Didier Drogba, and not Eto’o, is the best striker Africa has ever produced, whilst Demba Ba continues to show why he’s being used sparingly.
Between them, Chelsea’s three strikers have scored five Premier League goals this season; that’s a total matched by Norwich’s Gary Hooper – and that says it all.
- Chelsea have won only two of their last 13 Premier League matches with Liverpool (W2, D4, L7).
- But five of Chelsea’s last seven league wins against Liverpool have come under Jose Mourinho.
- Luis Suarez scored a second-half equaliser in both league meetings with Chelsea last season.
- The Blues have only lost one of their last eight league games.
- Jose Mourinho’s side have now kept two clean sheets in a row in the league after only keeping one in their previous 11.
- Mourinho has won 54 and lost none of his 69 Premier League matches as a manager at Stamford Bridge.
- Liverpool have only won one of their last six away games in the league (D2, L3): a 5-0 win at Tottenham.
- They have scored 29 goals in their last 14 trips to London in the Premier League (2.07 per game).
- The Reds have conceded a total of only three goals in their last nine end-of-year games.
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All-in-all, both sides will be desperate for a win on Saturday against one of their biggest rivals.