The heat of the race for the top 4 places of the 2020/21 Premier League season continues to heighten as Chelsea travel to face Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday.
Both sides have experienced dramatic changes since their last meeting. The Reds are now a shadow of their former in-form self while the Blues are under a new manager in Thomas Tuchel and are seemingly thriving under him.
Liverpool’s form at Anfield in the Premier League has been terrible, to say the least, as they’ve failed to win in their last 6 home games. They’ve scored just twice in those games and have lost 4 and drawn 2. The 4 losses were consecutive and were in their most recent home matches.
Chelsea’s season has also taken a turn under German manager Thomas Tuchel as they’re yet to lose a game since he assumed the helm to replace Frank Lampard.
They’ve won 4 and drawn 3 in the last 7 Premier League games under Tuchel and this is an improvement from where they were before Lampard was sacked.
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The Reds may be at a disadvantage because of injuries and poor home form but the Blues will have loads of work to do to amass maximum points from this game.
Regardless, the Blues are not favorites in my opinion despite their recent run of form because teams that are struggling tend to use them to turn their season around. The case of the 3:1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates is a good example and continues to ring a bell.
The race for the top 4 is another reason why this game would be a cracker. Only Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City appear to be invincible presently but the rest of the teams like Manchester United, Leicester City, and West Ham could be ousted from their positions if they don’t provide positive consistent results.
Liverpool are currently sixth on the log and Chelsea lead them with just one point in fifth. The Reds trail second-placed Manchester United by seven points and this season has shown that the point gap is very much surmountable.
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The Reds returned to winning ways in the Premier League last weekend with a 2 nil win against Sheffield United away from home to take eyes away from what has been their worst run since 1923.
Meanwhile, for Klopp, the number of home losses his side has suffered this season is the same as the number his side suffered at the same venue in his first 100 games.
Liverpool cannot afford to lose against Chelsea on Thursday as a defeat would see them record five consecutive home losses and it would be the first in the club’s entire history.
This is an ugly record that Liverpool won’t want and it’s one of the reasons why Chelsea must be on top of their game to snatch all 3 points at Anfield.
Chelsea will be out for revenge though having lost the reverse fixture to the Reds at Stamford Bridge. However, Jurgen Klopp and his men would be eager to hand his compatriot Thomas Tuchel his first defeat in the Premier League and as Chelsea boss.
Jurgen Klopp has the edge over Thomas Tuchel with regards to their meetings as managers. They’ve faced off 14 times and Tuchel has just 2 wins to Klopp’s 9.
Liverpool goalie Alisson Becker should return to action after missing the last game due to the tragic death of his father in a swimming accident in Brazil. Fabinho is also in line for a return to action but it remains to be seen if he will be deployed in defense or in midfield.
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Diogo Jota could also see action against Chelsea after returning from a knee injury he suffered in December and he may start from the bench in this one.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have been handed a boost ahead of the game with the return of veteran defender Thiago Silva. Callum Hudson-Odoi who was taken off at halftime against Man United and appeared with an icepack on his knee in the dugout will also be assessed ahead of the match.
Thomas Tuchel will have his decisions to make with almost a full squad at his disposal. He’d have to choose who will lead the attack between Giroud, Werner, and Abraham although Giroud starting seems likely.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Abraham, Werner
Liverpool have the edge with regards to H2H records having won the last 4 Premier League meetings between the two sides. This should enable them to go into the game with some confidence.
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This is a tricky tie! Chelsea have been very possessive under Tuchel but haven’t been lethal upfront as expected from a side that dominates games and dictates play. This will surely count in the game.
As for Liverpool, this game should prove if the win against Sheffield United is the beginning of a return to form and salvage of their season or if it was just a one-off. Regardless, I’ll sit on the fence for this one.