Looking at the opposition - Liverpool.

What a difference a year makes in football. This time last season, Chelsea were looking to kick on from the stability Guus Hiddink provide...

City of Manchester Stadium Eastlands Manchester City v Liverpool (3-0) Premier League 23/08/2010 Disappointing night for Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard and teammates David Ngog and Fernando Torres as they kick off for the fourth time. Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

What a difference a year makes in football. This time last season, Chelsea were looking to kick on from the stability Guus Hiddink provided under new manager Carlo Ancelotti and we could only hope for an instant reaction to his appointment and to do well in the coming season.

Liverpool on the other hand were being tipped as potential title challengers after a strong second place finish in the 2008/2009 season. Liverpool had finished above Chelsea and just four points behind United. They were expected to push United in the coming season. Gerrard finished 2008/2009 scoring 16 goals and Fernando Torres 14.

Last season was a very different story. With the following players leaving Anfield, Hyypia, Alonso and Arbeloa of note Benitez replaced those three with Glen Johnson, Aquilani and Kyrgiakos. Apart from Johnson, two players with no experience playing in the Premier League.

To me this seems to be something consistent of Benitez's time at Liverpool. Too many big names were allowed to leave the club with players of nowhere near the same qualities coming in. I know they finished 2nd at the end of the 2008/2009 season back that summer in 2008 the following players were allowed to leave, Harry Kewell, John Arne Riise, Peter Crouch, Robbie Keane (bought and sold)and Steve Finnan. They had been replaced with. Degen, Dossena, N'Gog, Riera and Peter Gulacsi. .... again not exactly household names.

This has been their downfall in the last 12 months or so and this season new boss Roy Hodgson has had to deal with the bare bones left there. I do feel sorry for Hodgson as he is a good manager. I also can't believe he has apologised to Benitez this week. I still find it difficult to understand (maybe because I am down south) how Liverpool fans aren't furious at Benitez and never vented their frustrations publically while it was happening.

Liverpool fans hold up a banner in protest after their English Premier League soccer match against Blackpool at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, October 3, 2010.  REUTERS/Darren Staples  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)

Liverpool finished last season in 7th place. Gerrard scoring just 9 goals and Torres weighed in with 18. You have to admit if you took those two out of their side last season then Liverpool wouldn't have been anywhere near 7th. Liverpool fans reading this be honest here, you know I am right.

So, on Sunday Chelsea travel to Anfield to take on a Liverpool side facing up to the consequences of the end of Benitez's reign. Hodgson has brought in some good signings with Joe Cole being one of them but we know his hands have been tied due to the financial constraints at the club until recently.

People are making a joke about Liverpool and aiming digs at their league position which is to be expected because if Chelsea were in the same situation we would expect it from our rivals and rival supporters. However, I believe that the Premier League with Liverpool in it is alot better than one without but that's just the football purist in me talking.

I have had a fair few articles on here about Fernando Torres and have been abused by only a minority on here before and I possibly expect the same again today. I have no argument with Liverpool's history. I have no argument with the fact you have won as many titles that you have and five European cups of that there is no debate.

I have to say that the constant reminders of your history has become tedious. That's because its all you lot ever seem to say. This season however, you have had no choice but to face the reality of the here and now and forget the rest of it.

Roy Hodgson Manager Liverpool 2010/11 Manchester United V Liverpool (3-2) 19/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Liverpool will continue to face the same problems until Hodgson is given money to develop the squad and get rid of the deadwood. Your squad is simply not good enough because of the reasons I have detailed above. It's a shame because you would have thought that any manager would build their side around the likes of Reina, Carragher, Agger, Gerrard and Torres.

There is no doubt that Joe Cole and Glen Johnson when playing to their potential will be as much a part of that make up as Gerrard etc and you add Dirk Kuyt to the frame too. Its just everyone else that's left do not cut it in Premier League football or haven't as yet and I am referring to the newbies Hodgson has been able to bring in back this summer.

So, Chelsea in a completely the opposite situation will take the field on Sunday, sitting five points clear and qualified and top of their Champions League group and will have no fear of going there to get three points. Back in the old days you knew you were in for a hard game at Anfield, being honest its not the same anymore just ask Blackpool!.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 Ashley Cole of Chelsea celebrates with teamates  after Alex scores the 2nd goal 2-0 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Chelsea have a strong squad that surrounds are key players. When those key players get injured or suspended we have players that can step in and fill the void and are of good enough quality for our results and performances to continue for example this season with Lampard being missing for two months.

Players with vital Premier League experience and that is what it all boils down to. Chelsea have sold players and brought in strong replacements. The last few seasons, a few players at a time leave and maybe one or two come in. Last summer for example ahead of our double winning season last season, we only signed Zhirkov, Sturridge and Ross Turnbull and each one of them never really were able to make any sustained impact because of the quality we had in the squad.

Liverpool used to do that to strengthen the squad but this hasn't been apparent and as a result their find themselves where they are today. I am sure given time and money Hodgson will turn it around and will develop a much much stronger squad at Anfield and they will be back there challenging like they used to be all the time.

The question remains, will he be given the time he needs by the new owners, the club and the supporters?.


Anfield Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers Premier League 24/10/2010 Liverpool supporters welcome new co-owner Tom Werner and sing along with Gerry Marsden and You'll Never Walk Alone. Photo: Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

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