Liverpool vs Chelsea. The Big Match Preview.

This is not just a match between two top six sides with pretensions of reeling in City. This is a match that carries an intensity started by the mutual dislike between previous managers Benitez and Mourinho and the fall out over the Luis Garcia,"ghost goal". One of the greatest things about football fans is that they don't forget, they carry grudges, imaginary or otherwise forever, likewise they relive great moments and terrible refereeing decisions over and over again.
On the face of it both teams enter this match in good form, four straight victories for Chelsea and three for Liverpool but Liverpool's mid week collapse brought to the surface all their insecurities and weaknesses again. Liverpool have also produced two terrible performances against top six rivals this season where as Chelsea's calamities have come against the Premier Leagues' lesser lights. I would say there is definitely more pressure on Liverpool and they need the three points more, both to stay in touch with the top four and to eliminate their mid-week hang-over.
THE KEY BATTLES
Liverpool have been superb going forward recently and Mo Salah has rightly taken the plaudits with his goals. His pace and eye for goal puts opposition defences on the back foot. They are scared of his pace and back off allowing Liverpool to get on the front foot. The problem for Chelsea is that if they focus on Salah, Liverpool's most dangerous player Mane may have licence to roam in their defensive third. Chelsea's tactic of using their wing-backs as outlets may be nullified if they become too scared of Mane and Salah's pace and trickery. Chelsea's wing backs are so integral to their play that of the twenty three league goals Chelsea have bagged so far this season they have scored four and made five assists. The Chelsea wing backs have had a direct impact on almost forty percent of Chelsea's goals. If Liverpool's wide players force them back a lot of Chelsea's attacking play will be diminished and could turn the game into a drab stalemate, a result that would, I'm sure suit Conte more.
In the centre of the park it will be interesting to see how Coutinho's cleverness and quick feet performs against Kante's non-stop work rate. If Kante gets on top of this battle Liverpool lose a large amount of their creativity but Coutinho only needs a chance to escape Kante's clutches and he could make something happen. 
Alvaro Morata has been outstanding since his arrival with goals and assists. He has looked great value for money and one of his strengths is one of Liverpool's weaknesses. Morata is somewhat of a dying breed , heading the ball has become something of a lost art in the modern game but he has shown himself to be very adept. Dealing with balls into the box is a massive Achilles heel for the Liverpool defence and Chelsea will be looking to get good service into the box for Morata to attack.
TACTICAL PLANS
Liverpool will play a four three three formation and I wouldn't be surprised if James Milner comes into the side to play at left back. Expect the first bank of three to be a slightly more cautious one than you associate with Klopp's natural tendencies. Conte will line up his Chelsea side in a three five two formation with Hazard dropping slightly off Morata and two defensively minded midfielders in Kante and Bakayoko. On paper this would appear to give Chelsea far greater numbers in midfield and allow them to dominate proceedings but in reality Liverpool's wide players will probably push Chelsea's wing backs back, making them a five three two. This would make Chelsea more resilient and harder to break down but put Liverpool in he driving seat in terms of possession and match dominance.
In all honesty it is a very tough match to call between two evenly matched teams. Maybe home advantage combined with Chelsea's long arduous journey home mid week will give Liverpool the edge. Or it could be that Liverpool's mid week collapse so damaged their psyche that they are really edgy and nervous.
I think that there will be goals but that the match will be close. It could be decided by a moment of brilliance or a moment of idiocy. I think there will be goals and that it will be very tight I predict a 2-2 draw.

By Clive Palmer

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