PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V LIVERPOOL - PART ONE
It is the final game of 2013. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton keep the Christmas facts and figures coming…
The first half of Boxing Day's victory over Swansea City was arguably Chelsea's best 45 minutes since the visit to West Ham in November.There was pressing high up the pitch, defensive anchor Mikel was marauding forward and many chances were created. The problem is that 1-0 was - yet again - only a fair reflection of the opportunities taken, not those on offer, of which there were nearly 20.
This match marks the turning point of the season, the last match of the first round against our Barclays Premier League opponents. At the halfway stage last season Chelsea had accrued 38 points - one more than the total before this game. Anything above that after this weekend from the opening 19 would represent the best return since the 2009/10 Double season.
Although the Blues have won 15 of the last 17 games at the Bridge, we have not beaten Liverpool in the Premier League for more than three-and-a-half years. It would require greater efficiency - especially in front of goal and away from home - to emulate the success of that season, but let us not yet rule it out.
The corresponding fixture in 2012/13 ended in a 1-1 draw. John Terry scored for the Blues from a Juan Mata corner but then left the field injured, Luis Suarez later heading an equaliser in the skipper's absence. Suarez has hit 19 goals in 13 Premier League games this season.
Football teaches that few things are permanent. Liverpool, arguably the team of the '70s and '80s, have not won the league since 1989/90 but have finished runners-up twice in the last 12 years.
Chelsea actually won a European title, the 1971 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, two years before Liverpool's first continental success, but the Londoners' Champions League win in 2012 came seven years after the Reds' most recent victory in the tournament.
While the lack of any European football at Anfield this season is indicative of their reduced circumstances, it may have aided their bright showing in the Premier League while their rivals have other matters to attend to.
Nevertheless the campaign has taken its toll and Steven Gerrard is out of Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. As we all know, he came very, very close to joining Chelsea in the summer of 2005. Since being convinced out of the move he has won the FA Cup once with his hometown club.
Had he made the switch he would have won the Premier League twice, the Champions League once, the Europa League once, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup once. If selected, of course.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers returns to face the club that helped launch his coaching career, looking after the youth and then the reserve team.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
West Ham v West Brom 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Aston Villa v Swansea 3pm
Hull v Fulham 3pm
Manchester City v Crystal Palace 3pm
Norwich v Manchester United 3pm
Cardiff v Sunderland 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Everton v Southampton 1.30pm
Newcastle v Arsenal 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Chelsea v Liverpool 4pm - Sky Sports
Tottenham v Stoke 4pm
|Barclays Premier League top eight|
|Top eight mini-league *|
* Points earned from games between the current top eight teams
Chelsea have won 15 and drawn three of our last 18 home Barclays Premier League games since QPR won at Stamford Bridge on 2 January.
Chelsea have gained 11 points from losing positions this season, the best record in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho is unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in all his 84 domestic games in open play. In the Premier League it's 69 unbeaten.
|Last six results|
|Dec 7||Stoke (a)||L 2-3|
|Dec 11||Steaua Bucharest (Champions League h)||W 1-0|
|Dec 14||Crystal Palace (h)||W 2-1|
|Dec 17||Sunderland (Capital One Cup a)||L 1-2 aet|
|Dec 23||Arsenal (a)||D 0-0|
|Dec 26||Swansea (h)||W 1-0|
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 3
A home defeat: 18
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Wed 1 Jan||Southampton away||3.00pm|
|Sun 5 Jan||Derby (FA Cup) away||2.15pm|
|Sat 11 Jan||Hull away||12.45pm|
If selected, Fernando Torres will make his 150th appearance for the Blues.
Frank Lampard's next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.
Frank's next goal will be his 250th in his club career (Chelsea 209, West Ham 39, Swansea 1).
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 championship win was in the old First Division over 23 years ago when a points total of 79 was enough to lift the trophy in 1990.
Liverpool have won 12 points on the road from a possible 27 this term. Three wins at Aston Villa, Sunderland and Tottenham, three draws at Swansea, Newcastle and Everton and three defeats at Arsenal, Hull and Man City.
The Reds are the Premier League's second top scorers behind Man City.
Liverpool have only failed to score in one away game this season which was against Arsenal in November
They have won 11 of the 13 games when they have opened the scoring, drawing one and losing to Man City on Thursday but haven't won any of the five games their opponents scored first.
Manager Brendan Rodgers
Days in charge: 576
|Liverpool's last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Dec 1||Hull (a)||L 1-3|
|Dec 4||Norwich (h)||W 5-1|
|Dec 7||West Ham (h)||W 4-1|
|Dec 15||Tottenham (a)||W 5-0|
|Dec 21||Cardiff (h)||W 3-1|
|Dec 26||Man City (a)||L 1-2|
Premier League scorers (43)
Suarez 19, Sturridge 9, Gerrard 3 (2 pens), Sterling 3, Coutinho 2, own goals 2, Flanagan 1, Henderson 1, Moses 1, Sakho 1, Skrtel 1.
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 3
An away defeat: 0
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Howard Webb is the referee for his third Chelsea match this term. He was the official for our games at Everton and at home to Manchester City.
David Luiz is one domestic booking away from a suspension having received four yellow cards this season. He will miss the game against Southampton if he is booked against Liverpool.
Liverpool is the last game before five yellow cards will not result in a ban. From 1 January players will only receive a warning
Visit again tomorrow for more Briefing.