Chelsea v Liverpool – Stamford Bridge – May 6,2018 – 16:30 hrs – EPL Preview
Now that Liverpool are in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) finals, they can look inward at the domestic scene where they are slated to meet Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this weekend for a Premier League clash. UCL celebrations aside, Liverpool are in danger of losing the third spot on the English Premier League EPL Table to 4th placed Tottenham who are a mere 2 points behind and have played one match less than the Reds.
A look at the form guide of the Top 6 teams show that all except for Liverpool have lost a match in their previous half-a-dozen outings. But the problem with the Reds' 6-match unbeaten run is that it's peppered with as many as 3 draws and 2 of those to relegation candidates, Stoke City and West Bromwich. Moreover, they will be running into a Chelsea side who seem to have lifted themselves out of a two-month morass of repeated losses by breezing through their last four Premier league outings with 3 wins. Add to that is their progress to the FA Cup finals, their only shot at domestic silverware this season.
Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud, Willian and Alvaro Morata will mostly lead an attack that has been performing well in their recent games. They will look to trouble a Liverpool defense, which although strengthened by the arrival of center back Virgil van Dijk, has looked vulnerable at times as evinced in the later stages of the 2nd leg game in Rome.
In their new-found confidence emanating from wins over sides like Southampton, Burnley & Swansea City, the Blues will look to attack at Stamford Bridge and in doing whatever gaps they leave will be enough for the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to exploit. The Liverpool trio have scored 29 goals between them in the Champions League alone and of the 80 Premier League goals the Reds have scored this season, 56 have come from them.
Jurgen Klopp will adopt his favorite formation of 4-3-3 that has brought him such resounding success. Salah, Firmino and Mane will take the role of strikers in this very attacking formation with Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold playing behind them. The Reds could be a little weary from their Rome trip and drunken of their semi-final success, but will be happy to take even a point from Stamford Bridge clash.
A draw would set back 5th placed Chelsea even further from the Top 4 Zone and ensconce the visitors safely in either the 3rd or 4th spot. Which is one reason why Antonio Conte's men would look desperately for a win. Even that may not help the Blues' cause, for they are still a clear 5 points behind 4th placed Tottenham and 6 behind Liverpool. They will have to win all their remaining 3 fixtures and wish that Liverpool and Tottenham lose all their coming games which is too much to ask for.
Bookmakers odds, though, seem to be pointing towards a Chelsea win on Sunday which is surprising given that the hosts haven't won in their last six games against Liverpool. Maybe it's the Reds' recent lackluster draws against minions West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City that must have weighed on the bookies' predictions. Even history is against the hosts at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool managed to register wins on their last 2 visits to the venue in 2015 and 2016.