Chelsea vs. Liverpool: Preview
| Wednesday, March 4th | FA Cup | Stamford Bridge | 8.45AM NZDT / 6:45AM AEST / 7.45PM BST |
The Premier League has certainly thrown up some shocks over the years, Watford’s emphatic and thoroughly deserved 3-0 thumping of Liverpool is up there with the best of them, so where did it go wrong for the Reds?
Fingers have certainly been pointed in the aftermath; in the media rather than from anyone in the Anfield camp, and why should they? Liverpool’s record was remarkable, almost unimaginable. A run of 44 Premier League games over 13 calendar months without a loss.
Jurgen Klopp was quick to point out that but for 11mm away at the Etihad last February, that record could have been 60+ games without a loss. For me, another clear attempt to downplay the importance of any records the media try to label this team with. From day one, Klopp has tried to remove the ‘heavy backpack’ of history that the modern LFC player inherits upon arrival at the club. His focus is always the next game, nothing else, trust the process and the results will come.
It should, however, be noted that Watford were exceptional. Their use of what was effectively a 6-3-1 formation was made possible by Deeney’s bloody-mindedness as well as Sarr’s industry, pace and willingness to take a chance. Watford were able to neutralise Liverpool’s attacking full-backs for much of the match.
“The most important thing is congratulations Watford, well deserved. That is what should be the headline. We didn’t perform like we should have and Watford performed exactly like they wanted.”Jurgen Klopp on the Watford game.
So, onto the next game … a tough assignment on the road at Chelsea. Frank Lampard’s side need a win; they have been inconsistent at best in the league and a recent 0-3 humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich has all but ended their hopes on the continent for 2020.
The FA Cup represents Chelsea’s last meaningful chance of silverware this year and so I expect to see Lampard play as close to a full-strength side as he has available to him on Monday night.
As for Liverpool, Klopp was quite adamant that the result at Watford would have no immediate impact on his team selection in this game. I think he will use this chance to rotate his squad as much as he can; he was quick to point out that both James Milner and Joe Gomez were back fit.
The manager has kept his cards very close to his chest with regards to tonight’s team selection. Ki-Jana Hoever and the impressive Neco Williams have both been involved in preparations whilst Curtis Jones and Pedro Chirivella are also available for selection.
I’m expecting to see a line-up similar to that of the first Shrewsbury tie that ended 2-2. It should also be another chance for LFC fans to see their latest starlet, Takumi Minamino, in action. The versatile forward has been slowly integrating into the squad as well as acclimatising to the rigours of his new club’s world-famous training regime.
Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)
Adrián (GK), Williams, Matip, Lovren, Larouci, Chirivella, Milner, Jones, Lallana, Minamino, Origi
This is obviously heavily dependent on Liverpool’s line-up with some sources predicting a fully-fledged first-team. Personally, I don’t think Klopp will miss this chance to rotate his players; he has shown in the past he will put faith in the youth system’s products.
Unfortunately, without Alisson and Van Dijk I’m much less confident of getting a result under the lights at Stamford Bridge; Chelsea will be hungry for this.
3-2 to Chelsea.