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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: LIVERPOOL V CHELSEA

TACTICAL BRIEF
Former Blue Clive Walker, who knows all about scoring against and beating Liverpool, explores how Chelsea might return home with all three points on Sunday.

Key battles
'I always have good memories of playing Liverpool - especially at Stamford Bridge in the famous 1978 FA Cup game of course. We often played well at Anfield too and enjoyed it but never won. You always felt Liverpool were superior to us - the bee's knees who won something every year.

'Now the roles are reversed somewhat and they always raise their game against us even though it may not make too much difference to the outcome of their season. There's a lot to play for Chelsea now though. Points can drift all over the place in these last few crucial weeks so we have to be focused.

'We can take a few things from the Fulham win. We looked a unit at Craven Cottage - we'll need the same on Sunday. It helped we were organised across the back with John Terry back to full fitness, David Luiz looking arguably the best centre-back in the league and Petr Cech making saves, catching crosses. That solidity inspires confidence. It gives the other players more freedom to express themselves.

'After Wednesday our opponents must also be worried about our attacking threat. Twenty-seven really is a terrific lot of goals to come from your defence; extraordinary really.

'The goals are coming from everywhere and that is to our advantage. With Liverpool Luís Suarez has had most shots on and off target this season. He's scored almost 40% of their goals and Steven Gerrard is not far behind.

'I was talking to someone from the Liverpool area the other day and we were recalling the criticism that when Fernando Torres was there Liverpool were a two-man team with him and Gerrard. And maybe it's Gerrard and Suarez now.

'We have others who can weigh in: Torres, Eden Hazard, Demba Ba, Ramires, Frank Lampard still doing it, as well as the back four. Any team that relies on two scorers will have days when it doesn't work, when the opposition work you out and get lucky.

'Liverpool's two straight 0-0s suggest they're still working on the plan c and d. That said, Suarez is a wonderful, hard-working striker, one of the best in the country purely and simply on the goals.

'Whatever you think about him he has passion and that goes a long way for them and breaks boundaries. Chelsea have two strikers bang in form. Rafael Benitez has played the two together in the last two matches but he's only really done it as substitutions to change shape, rest other players and keeping the opposition guessing. I don't imagine we are switching to 4-4-2 all of a sudden.

'There are questions over how good a season Daniel Agger is having for Liverpool alongside Martin Skrtel or even Jamie Carragher. Carragher is in the twilight as he's retiring and he wants to leave everything on the pitch when he's gone. He's experienced, absolutely wholehearted and Agger benefits from that.

Torres and Carragher

'Ba or Torres, one on one against Carragher, you'd expect them to beat him for pace and Agger can have a mistake in him. Likewise Glen Johnson, who's been back on the right recently, with Enrique left. We know Johnson has pace and is a threat going forward but he can be vulnerable defensively.

'Eden Hazard against anyone at the moment is going to be interesting. He and Juan Mata have joint most assists over the league campaign with 14. They should see the situation and spaces between Lucas Lleiva and the defence and will adapt to exploit that.

'Last season Liverpool started the game with their tails up. We were slow to respond and three goals down before we knew it. That cannot happen again.'

Squad fitness news
Only Oriol Romeu is definitely out for Chelsea. Ashley Cole (hamstring) and Gary Cahill (knee) may return and Marko Marin is over a thigh problem.

Liverpool have no fresh injuries. Former Blue Fabio Borini and Joe Allen are out with shoulder injuries and Raheem Sterling (thigh) and Martin Kelly (knee) are also missing.


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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: LIVERPOOL V CHELSEA

CHELSEA STATS
Our win at Craven Cottage on Wednesday was our first away victory in the Premier League since the 4-0 at Stoke in January.

The Blues have opened the scoring in 21 Premier League matches which is a higher percentage than any other club. We have gone on to win 16 games and draw four. Only West Ham have defeated us.

Chelsea are seven points better off compared to the corresponding 32 fixtures last season.

We have gained 12 points from losing positions this term and dropped 14 points from winning positions.

Last six results
Apr 1 Manchester United (FA Cup h) W 1-0
Apr 4 Rubin Kazan (Europa League a) W 3-1
Apr 7 Sunderland (h) W 2-1
Apr 11 Rubin Kazan (Europa League a) L 2-3
Apr 14 Manchester City (FA Cup Wembley) L 1-2
Apr 17 Fulham (a) W 3-0

 

Premier League scorers
Lampard 12 (4 pens), Mata 10, E Hazard 8 (1 pen), Torres 7 (1 pen), Ivanovic 5, Ramires 4, Terry 4, Ba 2, Cahill 2, D Luiz 2, Cole 1, Marin 1, Moses 1, Oscar 1 (pen), Sturridge 1, own goals 3. Total 64


League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 4
An away defeat: 1


Chelsea's next three games
Thu 25 Apr Basel (Europa League SF) away 8.05pm
Sun 28 Apr Swansea home 3pm
Thu 2 May Basel (Europa League SF) home 8.05pm


MILESTONES
Frank Lampard needs two goals to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling on 202.

Contratulations to David Luiz and John Mikel Obi who both celebrate their 26th birthday on Monday.


LIVERPOOL STATS
Formed
1892

Major trophies
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


Liverpool's last top-flight title was in the old First Division 23 years ago when a points total of 79 was enough to lift the trophy in 1990.

At home this term they have won 28 points from a possible 48 with eight wins against Reading, Wigan, Southampton, Fulham, Sunderland, Norwich, Swansea and Tottenham, four draws against Man City, Stoke, Newcastle and West Ham and four defeats to Arsenal, Man Utd, Aston Villa and West Brom.

Liverpool are the fourth highest scorers in the Premier League this term with 59 goals.

They have only conceded 14 goals from the 16 league games at home. Only Chelsea (13) and Man City (11) can better that.


Manager Brendan Rodgers
Days in charge: 324
Played 49
Won 22
Drawn 13
Lost 14


Liverpool's last 10 year league history
Pts Pos
2002/03 64 5th
2003/04 60 4th
2004/05 58 5th
2005/06 82 3rd
2006/07 68 3rd
2007/08 76 4th
2008/09 86 2nd
2009/10 63 7th
2010/11 58 6th
2011/12 52 8th


 

PMB

 


Last six results
Mar 2 Wigan (a) W 4-0
Mar 10 Tottenham (h) W 3-2
Mar 16 Southampton (a) L 1-3
Mar 31 Aston Villa (a) W 2-1
Apr 7 West Ham (h) D 0-0
Apr 13 Reading (a) D 0-0

 

Premier League scorers
Suárez 22, Gerrard 9 (4 pens), Sturridge 4 (1 pen), Downing 3, Henderson 3, Agger 2, Coutinho 2, Enrique 2, Skrtel 2, Sterling 2, Cole 1, Johnson 1, Şahin 1, Shelvey 1, own goals 4. Total 59


League games since
A home win: 1
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 3


WINDOW WATCH
Liverpool's completed January transfers
Ins Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea, undisclosed), Philippe Coutinho (Inter Milan, £8.5m)
Outs Joe Cole (West Ham, free), Alexander Doni (Botafogo, undisclosed), Daniel Pacheco (Huesca, loan), Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid, loan return), Michael Ngoo (Hearts, loan)


THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Kevin Friend is refereeing Chelsea for the fourth occasion this term and the second successive time at Anfield. He was the official against West Brom at Stamford Bridge in March, at Swansea in the Premier League in November and the Community Shield against Manchester City at Villa Park.


OTHERWISE ENGAGED
There are no suspensions.

The deadline for players receiving a suspension for accruing 10 cautions has now passed.

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