The penultimate away league game of the season takes the Blues north one last time. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton take a close look at the top-of-the-table clash…
It may be unusual for this fixture to pit first against second, but for the third season in succession and fourth time in the last five years, Chelsea’s visit to Liverpool has been in at the business end of the season. In that time, we have always seemed in the hunt for a title or trophy at his time of year. Liverpool, until now, not so much.
The last time the Blues visited Anfield, Luis Suarez could not stop himself biting Branislav Ivanovic’s arm and (with the incident undetected by officials) was allowed to play on, scoring a late, late equaliser. Happily the Serbian, who returns after suspension this weekend, was not significantly harmed and hit the winner in the Europa League final a few weeks later.
This week former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow described the relationship with Chelsea as a ‘deadly rivalry’. The choice of adjective might be injudicious but there are definite parallels with past clashes, especially 2005, when Chelsea played Champions League semi-final games against the Reds either side of winning the Premier League at Bolton.
Equally poignantly, Chelsea’s League Cup success in 2004/05 over the Reds was sandwiched between two unforgettable games against Barcelona in the Champions League. Again the core personnel were the same over the three matches. The Blues’ 3-2 final victory was also testament to Mourinho’s brilliance with substitutions.
Steven Gerrard, who later admitted to wanting a move to Stamford Bridge, set the Chelsea ball rolling with an own-goal equaliser, but it was Mateja Kezman who netted the winner, to the deliver the Special One’s first trophy in this country.
Chelsea also had much the better of other massive matches such as late in the season in 2004, which secured a vital Champions League qualifying place, the 2010 meeting that helped decide the title (see We Have History tomorrow for more on that game), and the 2012 FA Cup triumph that formed a double success with the Champions League.
Yet there is often a price to pay for success and by reaching the semi-finals yet again in Europe Chelsea have played 13 games more than Liverpool this season.
We have the best home form in the top flight but away performances have produced a different story. Unburdened by ‘famous European nights’ this campaign, Liverpool have the third best record on their own soil behind Manchester City, whom Chelsea famously beat at the Etihad in February.
It is fair to say the wonderful travelling Chelsea fans may be a little hoarse after their great support of the team at Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final. The bigger problem is the state of the team, many of whom returned home from the Vicente Calderon battered and banned.
Back in 2005 Mourinho picked a consistent team in all three games – a luxury unavailable to him this weekend. Petr Cech is out for several months with an anterior dislocation of the shoulder. John Terry, arguably the Blues’ player of the season, suffered a foot injury that will keep him out for an unspecified period. Ramires begins a four-game suspension having accepted a charge following an incident in the Sunderland game.
Mourinho will have to draw on his wider first team squad, and possibly more of the younger, less familiar men who helped the Blues to finish top of the U21 Premier League (above Liverpool) and reach the under-18 FA Youth Cup final for a third successive season.
As a former Academy and Reserve team coach between 2004 and 2008, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers knows the strength of the set-up at Cobham, though the first success came under one of his successors, Dermot Drummy, in the 2010 Youth Cup.
On the bench in Madrid were versatile defenders Nathan Ake (with three first team appearances) and Tomas Kalas (one), and Marco van Ginkel (four), the promising central midfielder (pictured below) who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in September.
Other youths whose performances have grabbed the eye include two-footed playmaker Lewis Baker (one senior appearance), powerful midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and stylish centre-back Andreas Christensen.
Whoever does play will have a decent record to defend: Chelsea have been defeated just once by a top-eight side in the league this season, taking all six points from Man City, four from Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and, so far, three from Liverpool.
Never the less the sense that the planets are aligning for Liverpool to win their first title since the pass-back rule was introduced in 1992 has been compelling, even before Chelsea’s latest misfortunes.
They have had few serious injuries to their key personnel and have been awarded 12 penalties this season — five more than rivals Chelsea and City (nine of them away from Anfield).
However they are far from infallible. Their goals tally is formidable and yet they have conceded more goals than Crystal Palace or Hull City. When Liverpool play ‘attack versus defence’ in training the ghost of Bill Shankly must draw his curtains.
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 30
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 20
Yaya Toure (Man City) 18
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 16
Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) 15
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 15
Eden Hazard 14
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 14
The race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Petr Cech 16
Tim Howard (Everton) 14
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) 14
Artur Boruc (Southampton) 12
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 12
*Points won from games between the teams in the current top seven
With a far superior goal difference than Arsenal and Everton, Chelsea require four points from the remaining three league games to confirm a Champions League group stage place.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Southampton v Everton 12.45pm – BT Sport
Fulham v Hull 3pm
Stoke v Tottenham 3pm
Swansea v Aston Villa 3pm
West Brom v West Ham 3pm
Manchester United v Norwich 5.30pm – Sky Sports
Sunderland v Cardiff 12pm – Sky Sports
Liverpool v Chelsea 2.05pm – Sky Sports
Crystal Palace v Manchester City 4.10pm – Sky Sports
Arsenal v Newcastle 8pm – Sky Sports
|Sun 27 Apr||Liverpool (a)||Chelsea (h)||C Palace (a)|
|Mon 28 Apr||Newcastle (h)|
|Sat 3 May||Everton (a)|
|Sun 4 May||Norwich (h)||West Brom (h)|
|Mon 5 May||C Palace (a)|
|Wed 7 May||Aston Villa (h)|
|Sun 11 May||Cardiff (a)||Newcastle (h)||West Ham (h)||Norwich (a)|
Chelsea have the best defence in the Barclays Premier League, conceding only 26 goals in 35 games including 16 clean sheets.
Nine of our 16 Premier League games in 2014 have been goalless at half-time.
Chelsea have won 13 and drawn two of the 15 games we have been ahead at half-time.
In 2014 we have kept 15 clean sheets and conceded just 13 goals in 24 games in all competitions.
We have won 28 points from a possible 51 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
|Apr 2||PSG (Champions League a)||L 1-3|
|Apr 5||Stoke (h)||W 3-0|
|Apr 8||Paris Saint-Germain (Champions League h)||W 2-0|
|Apr 13||Swansea (a)||W 1-0|
|Apr 19||Sunderland (h)||L 1-2|
|Apr 22||Atletico Madrid (Champions League a)||D 0-0|
Premier League scorers (67)
Hazard 14 (4 pens), Eto’o 9, Oscar 8, Schurrle 7, Lampard 6 (1 pen), Ba 4, Torres 4, Ivanovic 3, Willian 3, Salah 2, Terry 2, own goals 2, Cahill 1, Mikel 1, Ramires 1
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 4
An away defeat: 1
|Wed 30 Apr||Atletico Madrid (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
|Sun 4 May||Norwich City home||4pm|
|Sun 11 May||Cardiff City away||3pm|
If selected, Branislav Ivanovic will make his 250th start for the club.
Frank Lampard’s next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.
18 League championships, last in 1990
7 FA Cups, last in 2006
8 League Cups, last in 2012
15 FA Charity/Community Shields (5 shared), last in 2006
5 European Cups, last in 2005
3 UEFA Cups, last in 2001
3 UEFA Super Cups, last in 2005
Their last top-flight win was in the old First Division over 24 years ago when a points total of 79 was enough to lift the trophy in 1990.
The Reds have scored in their last 25 Premier League games. Arsenal, at the Emirates on 2 November, was the last time they failed to score.
Liverpool have scored 17 goals in the first 15 minutes and 13 in the last 10 minutes of Premier League games this season.
Brendan Rodgers’s side are unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League games, scoring an average of over three goals a game in that time. They have won the last 11.
Liverpool have won all five home meetings against the other members of the top seven, scoring 17 and conceded three: Man Utd 1-0, Everton 4-0, Arsenal 5-1, Tottenham 4-0, Man City 3-2.
Manager Brendan Rodgers
Days in charge: 695
|Mar 22||Cardiff (a)||W 6-3|
|Mar 26||Sunderland (h)||W 2-1|
|Mar 30||Tottenham (h)||W 4-0|
|Apr 6||West Ham (a)||W 2-1|
|Apr 13||Man City (h)||W 3-2|
|Apr 20||Norwich (a)||W 3-2|
Premier League scorers (96)
Suarez 30, Sturridge 20, Gerrard 13 (10 pens), Sterling 9, Skrtel 7, Coutinho 5, Henderson 4, own goals 4, Agger 1, Flanagan 1, Moses 1, Sakho 1.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 6
A home defeat: 14
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Martin Atkinson is the official for his third Chelsea match this term. He was the referee for our goalless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford in August and the 3-0 win at Southampton in January.
Ramires is suspended (first of four) as is Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson.
Victor Moses is ineligible due to the terms of his loan.
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.