Liverpool welcome Jose Mourinho and his table-topping Chelsea side to Anfield today with all eyes on the hosts to see how Brendan Rodgers will set his stall out following the “controversial” line up deployed in the week against Real Madrid.
It’s almost nailed on the likes of Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling and Dejan Lovren will return to the starting line-up for a crunch match that many expect Liverpool to get nothing from. On paper, this would indeed be the case. In fact even on current form this would be the case and it’s difficult to see how Rodgers’ team can resist the only side in the Premiership that remains unbeaten. Having said that, one would think they have to lose at some point.
Liverpool’s record against Chelsea over the last five home matches reads: W2 D2 L1 so it’s not that bad. In order to get anything out of this, the team need to return to the brand of football that’s been so endearing and profitable to them in recent times. I’d like to see Rodgers start with an attacking lineup and start with two strikers. This can only mean Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini ahead of perhaps Philippe Coutinho with Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling to the left and right of the little Brazilian respectively. Emre Can would be the holding midfielder for me because I still think Gerrard is off the boil. Martin Skrtel, Alberto Moreno and hopefully – instead of Glen Johnson – Javi Manquillo will join the returning Lovren.
Likely though, I suspect Rodgers will deploy one striker in Balotelli with a midfield of Gerrard and Can behind Lallana, Coutinho and Sterling all ahead of the same defence. I think this will probably give the side a bit more steal in the midfield to combat the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Namanja Matic. Joe Allen had a good game against Real Madrid, playing the whole 90 minutes so there’s a chance he may start in place of Can. I can’t see Rodgers leaving Gerrard out, despite this being the wiser move.
The way the table looks right now, things remain very tight between third and eighth and a win for Liverpool, no matter how unlikely would move them up into sixth and on level points with Arsenal and West Ham in fifth and sixth respectively. That’s not a bad position to be in considering all of the negativity that’s been surrounding the Reds in recent weeks and especially given the abysmal showings of late. In a strange way, I fancy Liverpool to get a point out of this. Maybe it’s my heart ruling my head but we’ll see. If the team plays to their ability, then there’s no reason why they can’t.
The defence will have to be on their toes to counter the likes of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard which will be an incredibly big ask but you know what? Stranger things have happened at sea I believe the expression is. Having said that, I’m hoping the defence won’t be all at sea to coin another phrase!
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen