From the banks of the Vltava in central Europe to the banks of the Mersey in north-west England. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton preview our return to Premier League action…
As in-form Eden Hazard recently told the BBC, ‘We are Chelsea, we can beat anyone.’ The Blues have won three Premier League games on the spin but now comes the first of two away league matches against a top six-team, with the other at Old Trafford near the end of the month.
This will be our 88th game at Anfield, placing it alongside Goodison Park as the most visited away ground in the club’s history. They have been pleasant trips since 2012 for the Blues, who are enjoying a run of eight unbeaten on the southern side of Stanley Park in all competitions.
Our 2-1 Carabao Cup win at Anfield in September is Liverpool’s only home defeat across all tournaments for over a year – and the Blues were minutes away from winning the reverse fixture to this at the Bridge, too. That ended 1-1.
Whisper it, but the Londoners have also won three of the past four away league games against sides starting the day top, including that iconic victory at Anfield five years ago this month.
By a curious coincidence the crucial matches this Sunday are identical to those on 27 April 2014. The results back then were Crystal Palace 0 Man City 2 and Liverpool 0 Chelsea 2.
Chelsea are aiming to extend our unbeaten league run at Anfield to seven games.
— Key stat
The sequencing of fixtures this weekend means Maurizio Sarri’s men could be down to fourth before kick-off and Manchester City may have leap-frogged Liverpool to take over leadership. Arsenal play on Monday.
This weekend comes between European quarter-final games for each of the top-six teams, and all are in with a good chance of qualifying for the last four going into next week’s second legs.
At present Chelsea have played one Premier League match more than our rivals for a third- or fourth-place finish. The other three will play their ‘game in hand’ on Tuesday or Wednesday the week after next.
Upcoming Premier League Matches
Reaching the FA Cup final last weekend means Manchester City could join the small and distinguished band of clubs who have won both the major domestic cups in the same season. Chelsea (2007), Liverpool (2001) and Arsenal (1993) are the only teams to have managed the feat to date.
Europa League catch-up
Chelsea’s 1-0 victory in Prague was Slavia’s first home defeat at the knockout stage in Europe for 11 years. View the highlights here.
Eden Hazard’s first goal against West Ham on Monday was so good it was worthy of winning two games, let alone one.
The Belgian maestro now has 16 league strikes to his name, equalling his best return for a campaign set in 2016/17, while the 19 in all competitions matches his best tally from 2014/15. The career total of 108 goals puts the no.10 level with the legendary ‘Gatling Gun’ George Hilsdon (1906-12) who is immortalised in the weathervane on the roof of the East Stand at Stamford Bridge.
The Hammers midfielders must have felt like hitchhikers on a motorway at times. Chelsea became the first Premier League side this season to have three players complete five or more dribbles in a single game. Hazard managed eight but Callum Hudson-Odoi (six) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (five) were not far behind.
Premier League top-scorers
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 19
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) 18
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) 17
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 17
Sadio Mane (Liverpool) 17
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 16
Raheem Sterling (Man City) 15
Jamie Vardy (Leicester) 15
Although Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker leads the way on top-flight clean sheets with 17, Thursday’s win in Prague brought a well-earned 22nd shut-out in all competitions for Chelsea custodian Kepa Arrizabalaga, putting him one ahead of the Brazilian on that count.
Premier League clean sheets
Alisson (Liverpool) 17
Ederson (Man City) 16
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) 13
Jordan Pickford (Everton) 11
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 10
Next league opponents Burnley have won two in a row after four successive defeats but may be without Phil Bardsley against Cardiff on Saturday. The defender cut his leg on a ping-pong table while playing head tennis.
Holders Chelsea will hope to overcome Manchester City away on Sunday at 3.30pm in semi-finals of the Women’s FA Cup and reach the final for fourth time in five seasons.
Chelsea’s development squad can draw level on points with third-placed Arsenal in by beating the Gunners in a PL2 match played at Stamford Bridge on Monday 15 April at 7pm. Tickets are £5, £3 concessions.
In Prague a handful of Chelsea followers chose to publicise their bigotry to the world by singing about one of the club’s former players in shameful and abusive terms.
Mo Salah has never been anything but respectful of the Blues since leaving, and in his time as a player was one of the first to appreciate our supporters, pose for photos and sign autographs.
Shame on those infamous few, then. But it is also important Mo understands that the overwhelming majority of us appreciate his contributions in the royal blue shirt – not least in the famous win at Anfield five years ago this month.
A minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off on Sunday in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy, the 30th anniversary of which falls on Monday.
Just under 100 supporters lost their lives while attending a football match and anyone who went to games in the late Eighties will shudder at how that horror could have befallen virtually any set of away supporters at a number of other stadiums.
Let us show the real face of Chelsea supporters with respectful silence for the 96, who ultimately represent all match-going fans.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND…
Our run continues.
Premier League results and fixtures
Leicester 0 Newcastle 1
Tottenham v Huddersfield 12.30pm - Sky Sports
Brighton v Bournemouth 3pm
Burnley v Cardiff 3pm
Fulham v Everton 3pm
Southampton v Wolves 3pm
Manchester United v West Ham 5.30pm - BT Sport
Crystal Palace v Manchester City 2.05pm - Sky Sports
Liverpool v Chelsea 4.30pm - Sky Sports
Watford v Arsenal 8pm - Sky Sports
Brighton v Cardiff 7.45pm