Okay, so the midweek draw against Maribor was disappointing and unexpected, to say the least, but lighten up! It’s not the end of the world! Look at City and Liverpool who are all but out of the Champions League while the Gooners managed to fluff up a 3-0 lead (still don’t need a defender, eh Wenger?).
My point is, despite our recent dodgy form (which I blame on the November curse), we are still top of the league (and laughing) and sure to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League (still laughing). Things are looking good in the Chelsea camp, and we have Mourinho on our side! What else do you need?
Now let’s talk some real football. The Blues travel to Anfield this weekend to square up against a struggling Liverpool side who, BTW, were hoping for a league title this season (haha, yeah, I know). But the reality struck them soon, as they struggled to score goals in the absence of their talismanic cannibalistic striker, while their Champions League dream is all but over.
Interestingly (and controversially), Rodgers decided he wants to avenge his side’s last season loss against Chelsea that cost them the title, and maybe that’s why the Liverpool manager rested all of his key players in the midweek game against Real Madrid, which does mean he has a fitter and fresher squad at his disposal. So, without wasting any more time, let’s look at some of the interesting key player battles that may define the outcome of this game:
RAHEEM STERLING vs CESAR AZPILICUETA
Cesar Azpilicueta is the best one on one defender in the league! What? Don’t you believe me? Well then, take a look at what Liverpool’s legend Jamie Carragher has to say about our Dave before the game:
“I think those Chelsea players, all of them, they defend properly. We see that in terms of the number of goals they’ve conceded, the clean sheets they keep. Azpilicueta is an out-and-out defender. You very rarely see anybody get the better of him. He’d be my number one [in the league].”
So, after it has been established that Azpilicueta is indeed brilliant, maybe the best at what he does, it’s time for the Spaniard to follow it up with a commanding performance against the young and energetic Raheem Sterling tomorrow at Anfield.
Sterling has been one of the brighter spots in a rather dire Liverpool attack this season. The young winger has the capability to play on either wing, and he has been the main creative outlet and the most direct threat on the counter-attack for Brendan Rodger’s side. Add to that, his speed and intensity, the English winger will most likely be a dangerous threat for Azpilicueta on the left side of our pitch. Better watch out for this battle, folks!
STEVEN GERRARD vs NEMANJA MATIC
We need a repeat of that slip, Steve! Probably not, as Gerrard would be extra motivated this time around after what happened last season. Though, if something like that happens again, you people would miss my Initial Reactions after the match because I would probably die laughing!
Gerrard might not be the player he once was, but the English talisman has been good this season with his long balls and pinpoint passes from the midfield, though, there hasn’t been enough receivers to convert them into goals. The old man has still got the engine to play the box to box role, and it would probably be the job of Nemanja Matic to control Steve’s late runs.
Matic has been in an incredible form for the Blues this season, and he is expected to get the better of Gerrard in this battle, but it’s still worth to keep an eye on. Maybe you would get to see Gerrard doing a Gerrard!
GLEN JOHNSON vs EDEN HAZARD
The player battles don’t end without the mention of the Belgian; that’s how good and consistent he has been for us this season. Eden Hazard is destined to achieve big things, according to many experts and destroying Glen Johnson on our left side of the pitch tomorrow will definitely help the Belgian and Chelsea in the quest of greatness.
Despite the Blues’ November curse that has definitely affected our performance in the last few games, Eden Hazard’s consistent performances have terrorized the fullbacks all over the world and Glen Johnson would be no different, who would probably be cursing his luck at the idea of coming up against Hazard in this kind of form, and even more so when it was Cristiano Ronaldo he was up against in the Champions League a few days back at Anfield. Talk about bad luck!
Despite all his flamboyance and tricks, Hazard still misses that cutting edge in the final third that separates the good from the great. Coming up against Johnson, the Belgian would likely want to work on his shooting and finishing while, the English right back would try his best to stop the Belgian from causing havoc. Interesting battle to look out for tomorrow.
Edited By: Girish Bhangre