Liverpool vs Chelsea preview: Reds face critical hurdle in title bid

Chelsea head to Anfield looking to spoil Liverpool’s pursuit of the Premier League title, live on Super Sunday.

Andrew Robertson will return to the Liverpool side having been suspended for the midweek Champions League win over Porto.

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That means James Milner, the Scotland captain’s stand-in on Tuesday, is available for a midfield role – giving manager Jurgen Klopp a selection dilemma as Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson have both performed well in the last two
matches.

Fellow midfielder Adam Lallana is expected to return to the squad after missing the last two games with a muscle injury.

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Chelsea will recall Eden Hazard for the trip to Anfield after he was only used as a substitute against Slavia Prague.

Callum Hudson-Odoi was left out of the squad but may also be drafted back into the fold while Emerson Palmieri will undergo a fitness test.

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Opta stats

  • Liverpool haven’t won any of their last six Premier League games at Anfield against Chelsea (D4 L2); the Reds have never endured a longer winless home run against an opponent in the competition.
  • Chelsea have only lost twice in their last 16 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions (W6 D8), though both of those defeats came at Stamford Bridge. The Blues’ last defeat at Anfield came back in May 2012 in the Premier League (1-4).
  • Chelsea have already won away at Liverpool this season, beating them 2-1 in the Carabao Cup. They’ve never won twice at Anfield within the same season, with Arsenal in 2006-07 the last side to do so against Liverpool.
  • Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 37 Premier League games at Anfield – only once in their top-flight history have they had a longer unbeaten home run (63 between Feb 1978-Dec 1980).
  • Chelsea have lost their last five Premier League away games against fellow ‘big six’ opponents, including all three this season by an aggregate score of 1-11. However, the Blues have won three of their last four away league games against sides starting the day top, including a 2-0 victory at Anfield in April 2014.
  • Chelsea have won three Premier League games in a row for the first time since September 2018, when they won their first five matches in the competition under Maurizio Sarri.
  • Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge netted the equaliser for his side at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture back in September; the only player to previously net both home and away against the Blues within the same campaign was Fabio Borini, who did so for Sunderland during the 2015-16 season.
  • Only three of the last 32 visiting managers have managed to taste victory in their first Premier League trip to Anfield (W3 D5 L24); Louis van Gaal in March 2015, Slaven Bilic in August 2015 and most recently, Paul Clement in January 2017.
  • Roberto Firmino has scored seven goals in his last six Premier League home games for Liverpool. However, the Brazilian has only faced Manchester United (8) and Everton (7) more often than Chelsea (5) without finding the net in the Premier League.
  • Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has had a hand in more goals than any other Premier League player this season (28 – 16 goals and 12 assists). The only league season in which the Belgian has been involved in more goals was in 2011/12 with Ligue 1 club Lille (36).

Merson’s prediction

I’m not sure if Eden Hazard’s going to play as the Europa League is a massive competition for Chelsea. For the manager, winning that competition is bigger for him than getting into the top four – for a manager who’s never won anything before.

This is a big opportunity for [Maurizio] Sarri so it’s a question of what team gets set up for Chelsea. If Chelsea play their full team, and don’t worry about next Thursday, this will be game on – no question about that – but I’m just going to go for Liverpool.

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