Liverpool vs Chelsea
| Sunday, April 14th|
Premier League | Anfield
4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST
This season has been so much fun — even when it has also been scary or heartbreaking or frustrating — that I haven’t looked at any fixture and thought, “I just want this one over with.” But this game? I kind of wish this game was in the bag already. We have to wait until Sunday, which is annoying enough, but the combination of another April battle with Chelsea while Liverpool are in the hunt for the title, mixed with the unacceptable and disgusting racist crap that Chelsea fans were chanting about Mohamed Salah last week, just make me anxious for this one to be over.
The match will also take place a day before the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster — a match which is always a particularly poignant and emotional one for Reds fans.
But it’s not yet, of course, and so Liverpool have one top six battle left in this Premier League season, and luckily it’s at home. Manchester City’s fixture list isn’t so kind: they still have to play Spurs and Manchester United in the league this season.
Chelsea, for their part, currently sit in a distant third place behind Liverpool and City, having won three league games on the bounce. Still, the pressure is on at Chelsea, and manager Maurizio Sarri, to perform, and their record against the top six this season hasn’t been impressive, having lost to Manchester United, Manchester City, and Spurs at various points. But it’s hard to count a team with Eden Hazard out of the running, especially considering the excellent form he’s in — including scoring both goals in their most recent victory over West Ham.
The question for Liverpool will be whether their good luck with hold fast, as it has done in nail-biting victories against Southampton, Spurs, and Fulham. They’ll likely need a perfect 15 out of 15 points in their last four games if they want to beat Manchester City to the title. On paper, Chelsea is their hardest team left to play, and the one they’re most likely to drop points against.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
While Joe Gomez made it to the bench against Porto midweek, it’s unlikely that Klopp will throw him in for his first game back since December against Chelsea. Most likely, it’ll be Dejan Lovren again.
Some rumours have Sadio Mané missing out on tomorrow’s match after hurting his thumb. However, unless the appendage has actually fallen off, I doubt that much would keep Klopp from playing him.
Klopp loves the so-called Brexit midfield during the big games, so love it or hate it, there’s a good chance that’s what we see him go with on Sunday. Of course, there’s no denying Fabinho’s talent, and Naby Keita has scored in Liverpool’s last two games, so perhaps we see one of those two coming in instead.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have a full squad to choose from, including Hazard, who was rested during Chelsea’s midweek Europe League game.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “We will take 13 players this time, and two will play only against Eden! We have to make sure he can’t shine. Stop passes to him, react better than other teams did. When he has the ball, already too late. Read the game, read the passes. 1v1 you can’t defend him.”
Maurizio Sarri: “I think it’s [the Hillsborough anniversary] really a very good opportunity for our fans. I didn’t want to speak about the video because, as I said, I didn’t see it, so it’s not right in my opinion to speak about something you don’t know. But for our supporters it’s a great opportunity. I’m sure that 99 per cent of our fans will have a very great day in Liverpool.”
Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett Fourth official: Craig Pawson
Kickoff is set for 4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.