The Blues are set to face Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals, when they visit the Anfield Stadium on Tuesday.
Both teams came out victorious in their last games. Although Chelsea look unbeatable at the moment, Liverpool at home can be a tough nut to crack. So here’s a look at our opponents in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Liverpool FC is based in Merseyside, England and is the most successful English club in Europe, with 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA cups, and 3 UEFA super cups. Founded in 1892, the club has won 18 League titles, only two behind Manchester United. In spite of their glorious past, the Reds are yet to win a Premier League title since its inception in 1992.
The Reds recorded a 2-1 win over Swansea City in the fourth round and an impressive 3-1 win over Bournemouth in the quarterfinals of the Capital One Cup. The Merseysiders are unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions, with wins in five and draws in two of them, although they have faced average-to-easy teams all this while.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
Brendan Rodgers’ change to 3-4-2-1 has been surprisingly successful for the Reds. In their first game with this system, they lost 3-0 at the hands of Manchester United but have not lost any of their games since.
It is almost the same as a 3-4-3 in terms of pressing and physicality, but offers more fluidity to the game. The two wide midfielders constantly make runs down their respective flanks to try and find the lone frontman. And as for the two men behind the striker, it ensures that a player is ever-present for receiving their passes on either side while going forward. While the two defensive midfielders offer significantly in attack by controlling the game in midfield, they also ensure that a shield is there to guard their three-man backline.
STRENGTH – KEY PLAYERS
1. Rickie Lambert: The 32-year-old English striker has faced some real hardships since joining the Merseyside club. Honestly, I have always wanted him to find his footings again. That being said, the striker seems to be getting back on track when he sealed the win with a goal for Liverpool in their last game against Aston Villa. In 17 appearances for the Reds in the Premier League, he has just 2 goals to his name. But after scoring one the most celebrated goals of his entire career against Aston Villa, there is surely something new to come from him and who knows, he might just be the right man for Brendan Rodgers’ team against Chelsea.
2. Lazar Markovic: The 20-year-old Serb joined Liverpool from Benfica in the summer. While he struggled to adjust to life at Anfield in the initial stages of the season, he has now slowly begun to settle down. The 3-4-2-1 system played by Liverpool saw him being played in a wing back position. Although Markovic has only two goals to his name this season, one of them coming in Capital One Cup against Bournemouth, his runs from deep down the flank are a constant threat. With or without the ball, they are enough to bring life to the game. Moreover, this pseudo-defensive position has seen him complete as many as 2.6 dribbles per game as opposed to 1.6 while playing as an attacker. The disciplined Serbian has doubled the amount of defensive actions per game, won 57% of his duels, has made 3.1 tackles per game, and more importantly, has recorded no defensive errors.
According to whoscored.com, Liverpool have developed a statistically calculated weakness of not being able to avoid individual errors and offsides. All these add up to a problem that Liverpool have been facing for a long time now; poor defending. In such a case, the Chelsea attack, which hammered five goals against Swansea in their last match, will be by far their toughest test of the season on Tuesday night.
HEAD TO HEAD
The two sides have met 159 times throughout history. 69 of these have been won by the Reds while 55 have gone in the favor of Chelsea. The fixture has witnessed 35 draws. Liverpool have not won any of the last five fixtures between the two sides, with 3 ending in the favor of Chelsea and 2 ending in draws.
The Capital One Cup is our first chance at silverware, and Chelsea must try and wrap up the Cup Final berth in the first leg of the semifinal itself. And that is very much expected to happen, even though the game will be played at Anfield. Looking at our previous result in an away game against Swansea, we wish Brendan Rodgers and his team good luck!
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni