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Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

On Sunday, Liverpool will be facing the sort of side and manager that makes all of us a little more nervous than we'd care to admit but is there logic in fearing Mourinho's Chelsea?

I love how our manager focuses on the players he has and tries to get the best out of them.
I love how our manager focuses on the players he has and tries to get the best out of them.
Jamie McDonald

Chelsea. José Mourinho. Chelsea. José Mourinho. Both are enough individually to irritate most who pledge neverending loyalty to the Liverbird but together, they've grown into Liverpool's third biggest rival. Manchester United and Everton will always be there. History dictates that those sides will always be ones we're desperate to beat when league fixtures are published. Yet there is something about Chelsea. A lot of it relates to history, geographical divides, José Mourinho, Rafael Benítez, Champions League, Fernando Torres, and meeting with an increasing regularity at the sharp end of cup competitions.

Chelsea represent what we don't want for Liverpool FC. We have history and class, we're traditionalists and want to build in a sustainable way without sacking managers every five seconds. For Chelsea, Liverpool endlessly bleat about a history that bears little relevance to the present while they crow with a smirk about having no history as they continue to build/buy (depending on your viewpoint) a future history that will be littered with trophies. Both sets of fans generally find the other quite insufferable and it's an interesting rivalry; a clash of footballing cultures.

This season, it seems that Chelsea and Liverpool are close to getting what they really really want. Liverpool are no longer a Premier League wannabe and Chelsea could have that era defining Champions League final under Mourinho that the fans desperately crave. Rafa may have brought them the Europa League and Roberto Di Matteo, believed to still be on Chelsea's payroll, secured a first Champions League trophy but the spectre of Mourinho hovered above both European triumphs. Looking for a third European trophy in a row, Mourinho is two games away from probably providing Chelsea with a little bit more of that history that has eluded them for so long.

We may not like the style Mourinho chooses to employ but each team cannot have the same philosophy even if the one at Liverpool is not only entertaining but tantalisingly close to bringing success. Mourinho's sides at their best can be enterprising counter attacking teams if they're allowed freedom to push for goals. Often, when necessity dictates, Chelsea have produced some excellent performances under Mourinho. In his first stint at Stamford Bridge, the 3-0 victory in over Manchester United to seal Chelsea's second successive Premier League title was a performance worthy of respect. Mourinho sent Chelsea with a specific game plan away to a Manchester City side that was at that juncture, unbeaten at home in the Premier League. However, victory was grabbed was executed with unerring conviction.

Mourinho is the master of reactive tactical concoctions in big games against attacking sides. Chelsea's record against the top seven in the Premier League is an example of his philosophy. He wants to avoid defeat away from home and pocket three points at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea's lack of enterprise and specifically his increasingly negative utterances seems to have rubbed off on his squad. Sure, Chelsea could have better strikers than Ba, Eto'o, and Torres but this is not a manager dwelling in poverty.

Liverpool are top of the league. Top. With three games to go. Liverpool host Chelsea before Manchester City travel to an in-form Crystal Palace later in the day. If Liverpool win, there'll be an eight point gap over second and a nine point buffer between first and third. Apart from a narrow victory over Manchester United in September, Anfield has been a humbling place for top seven rivals to visit. Even Manchester City were blown away by Liverpool in an opening half hour that should have brought more than two goals. Make no mistake, if Liverpool scored a third then Pellegrini's side would have joined Arsenal, Everton, and Tottenham in receiving heavy and chastening thrashings.

Liverpool should be confident irrespective of whether Chelsea play a strong side or one filled with incompetent no-hopers like Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Demba Ba, Mohamed Salah, Andre Scheurrle or callow first team players such as Willian, Oscar, and Eden Hazard. The league's fiercest attack meets the stingiest defence and no, Chelsea won't lend you change to buy those low budget packet of crisps even though they have a multipack of the same brand. The. Same. Brand. Can a Mourinho side receive a good, old-fashioned tanking? Sure ladies and gentleman. Middlesborough did it in 2006, Barcelona did it in 2010, and Borussia Dortmund did it in 2013. Jose Mourinho sides can be battered and victory shouldn't be on Liverpool's minds but utter and complete domination. Okay, so victory will do but why not go for the throat? 96 goals and counting folks, what is there to be afraid of?

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