Chelsea vs Liverpool – Key Player Battles
“The other (fringe) players are ones who have to be ready to play for Chelsea, they have to be ready to play any game. If they can’t play against a team from the Championship or League One or League Two, what do we do?” “It is easy for you to understand now why I play almost every game with the same players. I don’t make many changes. I try to keep stability in the team. Maybe now you can understand a bit better why.”
Yeah, we all do now!
These are some of the Jose Mourinho’s quotes after the humiliating loss to Bradford City. The manager obviously looked dejected with our performance and rightly so! A loss to a lower league side, that too at Stamford Bridge, when we were 2-0 up, isn’t exactly the trait of Champions! But the good news is we have a perfect opportunity to put everything back to normal when we square up against Liverpool tomorrow in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
The first leg of the semi-final took place at Anfield last week as the game ended 1-1. The return leg at the Bridge tomorrow has the marking of a cracker of a contest as the Blues would obviously look to put in some brilliant performance after their showing at the weekend while the Merseyside club also realizes this might be their best chance to get a taste of some silverware this season. Add that up, and we have got a mouthwatering contest on our hands!
So, without wasting any further time let’s get on with the player battles which might play a major part in influencing the outcome of this game:
PHILIPPE COUTINHO vs NEMANJA MATIC
People usually underestimate the importance of a holding midfielder and it isn’t their fault too. I mean, a DM doesn’t have the charisma and the “show off” off a talented winger neither does he boasts the scoring charts with plethora of goals, like a Striker. Hell, he doesn’t even rack up assists like a No.10! So it isn’t surprising when even football pundits doesn’t appreciate them. Don’t believe me? just ask Wenger!
That’s exactly what happened with Chelsea in the humiliating defeat against Bradford. After Mikel was taken off we managed to concede 3 goals; underlining the importance of a DM in the squad, and that’s exactly why Matic would be one of our most important player when we line-up against Pool tomorrow.
Philippe Coutinho has been a revelation for the Brendan Rodgers side this season. After a slow start, the Brazilian has lightened up the otherwise dull Liverpool season with some excellent performances in the Winger/CAM role. The Brazilian usually starts on the left side of the wings but frequently cuts inside just behind the striker to provide that killer through ball that has the ability to break open any opposition defense. Coutinho was no doubt the best Liverpool player in our draw at Anfield last week and Nemanja Matic would be the one who will have the job to stop the Brazilian along with his darting runs because once he does that we might be in for another upset! Quite a brilliant battle we got on our hands!
EDEN HAZARD vs EMRE CAN
Quite frankly, if you trust anyone in this Blues side to make a difference when everything including the team form is going against you, it’s Eden Hazard! The Belgian is possibly one of the best players on the planet right now and when he is in his groove, there’s not much you can do as an opposition player other than just fouling him. Knowing that, Emre Can did exactly the same last week which resulted in the Belgian winning the penalty and converting it into our only goal goal past Simon Mignolet.
Brendan Rodgers, failing to find the right combination for his side after the Suarez sale, has started this new 3-5-2 system in which the Merseyside club plays with 3 CB at the back. The fullbacks in this system play advanced position to provide the necessary width to their team compared to the traditional “defense first” system. As we saw last week at Anfield, with 3 at the back, it’s won’t be a traditional fullback, but Emre Can; the Belgian will be up against when he graces the pitch on Tuesday.
Traditionally a DM, Emre Can has been slotted into the CB role by Brendan Rodgers. Although the midfielder lacks the speed and agility to start at the back, the manager for some reason (lack of ideas? no Suarez? Balotelli , the best striker in the world?) has persisted with this combination which might (surely) work in the favor of Hazard as was also clearly evident at Anfield.
Once the Belgian gets going and the whole team compliments him with a at least a decent showing it would be almost impossible and quite fun to watch Emre Can up against the dribbling master and for that reason alone, please do look out for this battle!
DIEGO COSTA vs MARTIN SKRTEL
This is always a fun battle to watch out for. Reason? Well, they both are an interesting character on the pitch and going up against each other a booking or a sending-off always looks imminent when they square (brawl) up!
An importance of a Striker can only be understood by watching the performance of Drogba against Bradford City. I get it, the guy is a King and one of the best that ever graced the Stamford Bridge, but it’s time Mourinho tried Loic Remy in his preferred position as the Frenchman has looked quite impressive whenever he has had the opportunity to start for us. Tomorrow though, it would be hopefully Diego Costa who will start as the lone forward for the Blues.
The Spaniard, even when he doesn’t score goals (which doesn’t usually happen) he puts relentless pressure on the opposition players and his pressing game and link-up play allows player like Hazard and Oscar to go forward and get their shots away too, something we lack with Drogba on the pitch.
With all due respect to Martin Skrtel, he is not a world class CB and if Diego Costa and co. manage to find their form on the pitch tomorrow, it would be quite difficult for Skrtel to hold-off this Chelsea attack and the score-line could reach to the point of ridiculousness, or so we hope! Still look out for this battle tomorrow!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt