MX23RW : Friday, July 23 22:09:14| >> :120:11582:11582:
Apr 14, 2019 at 4.30pm UK at Anfield
Attendance: 53,279
Liverpool
2-0
Chelsea
Mane (51'), Salah (53')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Liverpool vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield.

Liverpool face the toughest of their remaining Premier League title tests on Sunday afternoon as they take on third-placed Chelsea at Anfield.

The Reds have won four matches in a row to reclaim top spot, albeit having played a game more than Manchester City, but they have a poor record against this weekend's opponents.


Liverpool

Sadio Mane scythes down Eden Hazard during the Premier League clash between Liverpool and Chelsea on September 29, 2018© Reuters

This is a fixture that has now become synonymous with Steven Gerrard's slip almost exactly five years ago, which gifted Demba Ba a goal as Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners at Anfield.

That was the last time the Reds were involved in a title challenge at the business end of the season, with their campaign ultimately ending in heartbreak as they finished two points behind Man City.

Will history repeat itself this time around? Liverpool certainly look to be made of sterner stuff now, and should they overcome Chelsea on Sunday then they will have already surpassed their tally from the whole of 2013-14.

That says an awful lot about the quality at the top of the division this term, with Liverpool and City battling it out on a weekly basis to reclaim control at the top. With a month of the season to go, the defending champions' fate is in their own hands - just.

Jurgen Klopp's men are certainly not making it easy for their title rivals, though, having collected 12 points from 12 since their little wobble between the end of January and the start of March when drawing four out of six matches.

That gave Man City the chance to usurp them, but the Reds have the more favourable run-in to see out the season, even accounting for this visit of Chelsea.

After facing the Blues at Anfield, Klopp's side have trips to lowly Cardiff City and Newcastle United, while also hosting Huddersfield Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers. City, meanwhile, have Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United still to come.

Having turned Anfield back into a fortress, going 37 Premier League games since last tasting defeat there, Liverpool will be after three points against Chelsea and nothing less.

If nothing else, this match will also present Liverpool with a chance to banish those disappointing memories from this corresponding fixture in 2014. Achieve that and many may well reconsider their prediction for which side will finish top in the most exciting title race in years.

Recent form in Premier League: WDWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWW


Chelsea

Marcos Alonso celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Slavia Prague in the Europa League on April 11, 2019.© Reuters

Whisper it quietly, but there have perhaps been one or two signs in recent matches of 'Sarri-Ball' coming into effect. Maurizio Sarri has still yet to win over supporters, but four wins on the bounce have at least silenced the doubters.

It was in the second half in last month's away meeting with Cardiff City when Sarri's future looked most in doubt. Trailing 1-0 to a Victor Camarasa strike, Chelsea's travelling supporters made it known in no uncertain terms that they wanted the Italian out.

A controversial Cesar Azpilicueta equaliser in South Wales, followed up by a last-gasp winner from Cesar Azpilicueta, may just prove to be the turning point for Sarri as his side now have momentum on their side.

After beating Cardiff, the Blues picked up a routine 3-0 home win against Brighton & Hove Albion, earned an Eden Hazard-inspired 2-0 victory against West Ham United and ground out a 1-0 win away to Slavia Prague.

Thursday's victory in the Czech capital leaves Chelsea with one foot in the Europa League semi-finals, but the margin of victory was not big enough for Sarri to be able to again omit star names from his starting lineup for next Thursday's return match.

That could impact the lineup fielded at Anfield, with the under-fire boss having to balance two competitions at the business end of the season.

It remains to be seen which competition takes priority for the Blues, knowing that a place in next season's Champions League is their reward for winning the Europa League, while finishing third or fourth in the Premier League will also be enough to achieve that target.

The West London outfit have moved into third place thanks to their three league wins in a row - the first time they have managed that since September - which leaves them sitting two points better off than Tottenham, three in front of Arsenal and five points better off than Man United, having played a game more than all three.

The top four could have a different look to it once those sides play their games in hand, but for now things are looking a lot more positive for Sarri. With some momentum on their side, Chelsea can go a long way to winning over their remaining critics by coming away from Anfield with victory on Sunday.

Recent form in Premier League: WDLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWWW


Team News

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane celebrates with Andrew Robertson after scoring in the Premier League clash with West Ham United on February 4, 2019© Reuters

Liverpool will welcome back left-back Andrew Robertson from a suspension that ruled him out of the midweek Champions League win over Porto.

Joe Gomez was named on the bench on Tuesday and is in line for a first appearance since early December, though Dejan Lovren performed well at the back against Porto after ousting Joel Matip.

Klopp's biggest selection dilemma is in central midfield, where Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson have performed well in recent matches, which will likely mean James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum and the fit-again Adam Lallana being overlooked for selection.

Roberto Firmino has scored seven goals in his last six Premier League home games for Liverpool, meanwhile, though he has only faced Man United (eight) and Everton (seven) more often than Chelsea (five) without finding the net in the top flight.

As for the visitors, they are expected to rotate once again after making seven changes to their starting lineup against Slavia Prague on Thursday.

Key man Hazard was among those to be left out from the off and should return on Sunday, and Callum Hudson-Odoi will also be raring to go after missing out on the square entirely through tiredness.

Hazard has had a hand in more goals than any other Premier League player this season (28 - 16 goals and 12 assists).

Emerson Palmieri will have to be assessed as he is carrying a knock, but he should be fine and Sarri otherwise has a full selection of first-team players to choose from.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Higuain, Hazard


Head To Head

Liverpool have not won any of their last six Premier League home games against Chelsea, drawing four and losing two of those - they have never endured a longer winless run against an opponent in the competition.

The Blues have only lost twice in their last 16 meetings with the Reds in all competitions, and both of those defeats came at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have already tasted victory at Anfield this season, winning 2-1 in the EFL Cup third round. They have never won twice away to Liverpool in the same season.


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We say: Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea

Klopp's 200th game as Liverpool manager could not be any bigger. Liverpool have been brilliant this season but any sort of slip up now, as was the case - quite literally - in this same fixture five years ago could prove fatal. Chelsea also have plenty still to play for on multiple fronts in the remaining month of the season, but they would be happier with a draw on Sunday, and that is the way we see this one going.



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Roberto Firmino and Fabinho celebrate a goal for Liverpool against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on January 19, 2019
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