Top Striker Set To Miss Chelsea Clash: Opposition Scouting Report
“Manchester United can’t catch us, Manchester City can’t catch us, Arsenal can’t catch us, we are the champions!” screamed the announcer at Stamford Bridge as the Blues defeated Crystal Palace to earn the Premier League title.
This Sunday, the newly crowned champions host the most successful team in English football history. Chelsea have already claimed the title, but Brendon Rodger’s side have a lot to play for. The Reds need a win to close down the four-point gap on Manchester United for the last Champions League slot for next season. On the other hand, Mourinho has a magnificent record against Liverpool and will make sure it stays that way.
Let’s analyze our opponents in this opposition scouting report:
Based in Liverpool, Liverpool Football Club have won more European trophies than any other English team with five European Cups, three UEFA Cups, and three UEFA Super Cups. Domestically, they have eighteen League titles, seven FA Cups, and a record eight League Cups. The Merseyside club are yet to win a Premier League title since its inception in 1992. They have played at Anfield since its formation in 1892. The most successful period in Liverpool’s history was the 1970s and ’80s when they won eleven league titles and seven European trophies..
Liverpool head into this game with a narrow win over a 10-man Queens Park Rangers side last weekend, closing the gap on United to four points. Their form has been disappointing of late. Teams like Hull City, West Brom and Aston Villa have got the better of Liverpool in recent weeks. The Reds have taken just four points from their seven games against the current top four this season (W1, D1, L5). Their defense has had a decent away form keeping seven clean sheets in nine matches on the road.
The Reds are placed fifth on the Premier League table with 61 points, four points behind Manchester United.
Last 5 Premier League games: W-L-D-L-W
Rodgers will again be without a top striker upfront, with Daniel Sturridge reportedly out until September following a hip operation.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 8, 2015
Mario Balotelli still doubtful after injuring his foot. In the defense, Mamadou Sakho is sidelined yet again with a hamstring injury.
Liverpool will look to attack the impeccable Chelsea defense from the first minute. Rodgers will most probably opt for a back four in a 4-4-2 formation against the Blues. Mignolet will retain his position in front of goal after keeping 13 clean sheets this season. Glen Johnson and Emre Can will play alongside centre-backs Skrtel and Lovren. Henderson and Gerrard will be in the midfield flanked by Lallana, Coutinho will start at the flank but will end up playing the number 10 role as the game progresses. Lambert is expected to start alongside Sterling up front.
Key Player: Philippe Coutinho
The Brazilian has by far been Liverpool’s best performer this season. Included in the PFA team of the year, Coutinho is a player the Blues would look to mark throughout the 90 minutes. The Blues have conceded only 7 goals at Stamford Bridge this season, and it will be a test for the Brazilian to penetrate the solid Chelsea defense. He has often been one of the most important links between Gerrard and Henderson in midfield and Sterling in attack. Sunday will be a tough test for the Brazilian, and he would not shy away from punching in one of his trademark strikes from a distance testing the quality of Thibaut Courtois.
Right-back Emre Can will have a difficult day at the office, facing off against the PFA Player of the year, Eden Hazard. The German defender has looked weak in recent games especially against top dribblers. Can’s tackles have been terrible earning oppositions plenty of free-kicks around the box. Hazard will also be testing the new centre-back pairing with Sakho ruled out, making it easier for the trio behind the striker to penetrate a fragile Liverpool defense.
Up front, Ricky Lamber may also find it difficult to adapt to the pace of Sterling, Lallana, and Coutinho. The Reds have often looked a little toothless without Daniel Sturridge in the striker’s role. With the 33-year-old Lambert upfront, the Reds lose out on quality pace during important counter attacks.
HEAD TO HEAD
Chelsea and Liverpool have faced each other on 161 separate occasions with The Reds winning 69 and The Blues winning 56 matches. They have settled for a draw 36 times.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their last four Barclays Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge (W2 D1 L1).
- Jose Mourinho has won eight of his 10 Premier League matches versus Liverpool (D1, L1)
- Simon Mignolet has kept 13 clean sheets in the Premier League this season – only Fraser Forster (13) has kept as many.
- John Terry is the only Chelsea player to play every minute of this Premier League campaign so far (3150)
The Liverpool fans and players would not be happy holding the guard of honor for the new Premier League champions. Adam Lallana certainly wants it to be used as motivation to spoil Chelsea’s party. Lallana said:
“Chelsea deserve to be champions. The table doesn’t lie. They have been the best team throughout the season. All I know is we want to go there and spoil the party. We’re looking to go there and cause an upset and put a dent in their celebrations.”
Jose Mourinho doesn’t like losing, especially when it’s at the Bridge. Rumors suggest that the Chelsea manager will be putting out a different squad to face the Reds, resting his star performers.
Last season, when Chelsea traveled to Anfield with nothing to lose, Mourinho proved to be a master tactician and made sure the title “slipped” from captain Steven Gerrard’s grasp. This time around Liverpool need to secure the fourth spot and are running out of games. Expect plenty of goals as it is going be a close fought game between the two sides.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni