Liverpool v Chelsea: The Preview - Can they live with Chelsea?

This afternoon Chelsea travel to Anfield in a game we need to win to maintain our lead in the Premier League. Chelsea are in great form, p...

May 02, 2010 - 05852333 date 02 05 2010 Copyright imago Jamie Carragher of Liverpool slides in ON Didier Drogba of Chelsea Barclays Premier League Liverpool v Chelsea 2nd May 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Football men England Premier League 2009 2010 Action shot Vdig 2010 Square Highlight premiumd.

This afternoon Chelsea travel to Anfield in a game we need to win to maintain our lead in the Premier League. Chelsea are in great form, playing well and have plenty of strong options for Carlo Ancelotti to choose from. After a difficult start and problems off the pitch, Liverpool look to have turned a corner and will be looking to get something from the game today. The question remains, "Can Liverpool live with Chelsea today?".

A lot has been said of Liverpool's problems, as reported on here during the week. If you are a Liverpool fan you have to be sick and tired of all the crap you have had to deal with and want your side to just concentrate on getting back up that table sooner rather than later. After Steven Gerrards one man show in the week scoring a hat trick against Napoli, Roy Hodgson and the Liverpool faithful will be looking for Gerrard to have a repeat performance today. However, this is Chelsea.

With just three Premier League goals conceded so far this season Gerrard and his Liverpool side face without question their toughest test. A defeat costs Liverpool dear so expect them to come out fighting with their fantastic support at Anfield right behind them.

Anfield Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers (2-1) Premier League 24/10/2010 Thumbs up from Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) Photo: Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Carlo Ancelotti has taken the time out this week to speak of Gerrard and paid him a huge compliment. He said:
"He is playing in a very dangerous position for us, a little bit behind Torres and we have to control his position during the game because he will be able to give final passes for Torres and be dangerous when he shoots from distance.

I think it's very important for us to maintain a compact shape and don't give him the possibility to play with space. It's important Mikel can control his position but also the other midfielders have to support him.

[Gerrard] is one of the best players in the world, when you can manage the best players, it is easier to win. I don't know him as a person, I think he is a good man, but I would like to manage him because I managed a lot of fantastic players and he is in the list of the best players.
Without doubt Mikel needs to dominate Gerrard today. I think a fair criticism of Gerrard is that he can fade out of games if Liverpool are under pressure and not playing well. If Mikel can win his tackles and win the ball and play it to a blue shirt all afternoon then expect Gerrard to drop deeper or move out wide. Mikel v Gerrard is one key area today.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard stands with his hands on his hips during their English Premier League soccer match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northern England, October 17, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)

Gerrard himself spoke of what's been going on at the club, the future and of nearly leaving Liverpool to join Chelsea. He said:
"I don't think sacrifice is the right word to stay at Liverpool, Playing for Liverpool and being the captain, I wouldn't call that a sacrifice - I would call that living a dream.

Of course there have been opportunities in the past to move on - Chelsea and other times as well - but I love this club. I want to stay and be successful because, when that day comes, I know it will mean an awful lot more to me.

From a selfish point of view, I want a short-term fix from the new owners, but I'm not naive enough to think it is about me or the players coming to the final part of their careers. The Americans have got the right idea by trying to build a platform for this club for many years but I'm looking for the quick-fix because I have only got four or five years left at this level and I want to win trophies before I finish. That is what I go to work for.

The last 12 months have been the most difficult since I was 18 and broke into the first team. We finished seventh in the league and then there was all the stuff that went on off the pitch. Hopefully that is all behind us now - and we can move on!"
I have mentioned on here in the week about my take on the Liverpool situation that brought their downfall so nothing more needs to be said. Gerrard and Liverpool will be up and at it today from kick off and Chelsea will need to be on their game.

Villa Park, Aston Villa v Chelsea , Premier League 16/10/2010  Chelsea Manager / Head coach, Carlo Ancelotti Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

However, Liverpool also need to remember that Sir Alex Ferguson has said this week that "Chelsea are the team to beat for the title" and Carlo Ancelotti agreed with him and said:
“I agree. It’s not mind games, it’s the truth. I think that every team who wants to win the title has to fight against us. If Sir Alex Ferguson, a coach with great experience, speaks well about our team we have to be happy and proud.

I think it’s harder as champions because the other teams want to do better to beat you and you have to be ready to improve. To repeat the performances from last season you have to do better and improve. I told the players this at the beginning of the season. To repeat our victory we have to do better.

Now the team has confidence to play and this is important. I don’t think buying new players is the way to improve, sometimes you need to improve your ability as a team. It’s difficult to improve these players individually ­because they are top players.

Where we can improve is as a team, to put this ability, these skills together to build a good shape, to play together to win. It’s very important when you’re not able to put your top players in the squad that the team maintains the same ­results. This means the squad is good.

Our aim is to improve and we are trying to improve. When things are OK this moment you have to find something to improve. I said two weeks ago that we had to play more consistently during games, and we’ve done that in our past two games.

Sometimes I dream about how my team has to play and it’s difficult to get exactly what you want on the pitch. It’s impossible to reach my dream because there are no perfect teams. But I’m happy at the moment as the team are doing their best.”
Chelsea have been impressive in recent games and picked themselves up after a really bad, disappointing defeat and performance at Manchester City. With important players returning from injury and Carlo being able to rest some of them in midweek, Ancelotti has a strong squad to choose from today. Of course Lampard is missing once again but to be fair the likes of Ramires and Zhirkov have come in and played well. Another key aspect for me is the return of Malouda. I am sure Carlo will select him in front of Kalou today.

I think the back five pick themselves. Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry and Cole have been an important part of our defensive record. Again today Terry will lead the defence and continue to throw everything at defending our goal. Yes at times we have been sloppy at the back and Cech has proven to be back to his best when called upon. We just need to cut out the simple errors or sloppy defending as one day we could get caught out. Let's hope they stand firm once more as we did against the Arsenal and force the likes of Torres and Gerrard to try and break down the blue wall.

John Terry Chelsea 2010/11 Chelsea V Manchester United (1-3) 08/08/10 The FA Community Shield Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

JT also spoke out this week ahead of the game and our form and said:
"If we continue this run until Christmas when the games come thick and fast it proves difficult for the opposition, the teams in second, third or fourth if the gap is getting no closer because of us winning, It gets frustrating, so it is an important couple of months for us."
He is spot on and today expect a professional performance once more. Expect Chelsea to be solid at the back, for Mikel to sit and nullify the threat of Gerrard, Essien (if he is fit), Ramires or Zhirkov to overpower and overrun the likes of Lucas and Merielles that then allows our front three of Malouda, Drogba and Anelka to scare the life out of their back line. Reina needs a big game today and expect him to be busy.

It's my view and I am just being realistic here that Chelsea are far stronger at the back than Liverpool are. For example, Torres and Gerrard up against our back six including Mikel should be able to deal with them quite easily today. You'll notice I haven't mentioned any other Liverpool players as threats to our defence because I believe they aren't and that's no disrespect. I just talking about getting the better of our defence.

At the other end of the pitch Chelsea have far more attacking options. Anelka is in the form of his life at the moment, Malouda is creating and scoring goals for fun and Drogba is just Drogba. The Liverpool back four have their hands full today and Yury Zhikov, if he is given space could be key today.

Chelsea have the best left side in the league without question and expect a lot of our possession down that side today. Ashley Cole linking up with Malouda in games has already been a feature this season but add Zhirkov to the equation and it only makes us stronger. If Glen Johnson plays at right back today expect him to be forced backwards more often than forward.

I believe Hodgson will pick Johnson at right wing today with Carragher in behind him to toughen up that side to deal with the threat we pose. It will be whether or not they can will go along way to determining the outcome today.

An Unhappy Carlo Ancelotti Manager during the match Chelsea 2010/11 Manchester City V Chelsea (1-0) 25/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Finally both the managers have also had their say on the game and each other today starting with Ancelotti on Liverpool. He said:
'Now we are doing better against the teams where last year we had problems' Compared to last season, we lost to Aston Villa away, we lost against Wigan and this year we won, we drew against Blackburn last season, so we are doing better there and if we are able to maintain the same results against the top teams that will be fantastic.

I am surprised. We have maintained the same level as last year but the other teams have had problems. I thought that Man City could be involved in the [challenge for] first position but now they have a problem and they have to move on quickly if they want to fight for the title.

For Liverpool it is difficult to fight for first place now but they could still fight for a Champions League place."

Roy Hodgson Manager Liverpool 2010/11 Birmingham City V Liverpool (0-0) 12/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Roy Hodgson also spoke about the game and Chelsea and he said:
"I don't think any team is unstoppable, All teams, however good they are, are stoppable. All teams have bad days. All teams lose matches. They might not lose many in a season, but they will lose some.

To some extent you hope on Sunday they don't have one of their better days - that would assist us - or we might have a very good day and cause them lots of problems. That's what I'm hoping and working for."
So to summarise, Hodgson has put it perfectly in my view. Liverpool need Chelsea to have an off day like against City and need his players to have a very good day. With one draw and five defeats in the last six Premier League games Liverpool will be looking for something from today but their problems have been plain to see this season.

If Chelsea can keep Gerrard quiet and get hold of the majority of possession I believe it can only be a very good day for Chelsea. Our front three will have a field day against two centre halves for Liverpool who I believe are not good enough for this league.

No disrespect Liverpool fans but I can only see a Chelsea win. It may be tight early doors but as soon as Chelsea get one, expect the flood gates to open.

3-0 Chelsea. Drogba and Anelka(2).


Liverpool/Chelsea Premiership 02.05.10 Photo: Tim Parker Fotosports International Chelsea Fans during the game Photo via Newscom

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