Liverpool travel to Chelsea this afternoon in what must be the fixture of the weekend.
A look at the form guide shows Liverpool above Chelsea by two points over the last six games, although Liverpool have scored less goals (eight compared to Chelsea’s twelve) they have shipped far less conceding on only three occasions compared to Chelsea’s eight.
According to Opta’s stats, Liverpool have allowed the fewest shots at their goal than any other in the Premiership and at the same time being behind only Manchester City in terms of shots at goal. For Liverpool to get anything out of this game they have to that these statistics are not just numbers but a reflection of themselves as a group and that it shows.
In terms of personnel, Daniel Agger should be a must to start, because he has the pace and guile to deal with the best attackers. I would prefer to see Martin Skrtel retain his place also because the pair seem to be developing a good understanding at the back. Jamie Carragher should not be an automatic choice anymore. Kenny Dalglish should be looking to the future and Carragher isn’t it. Dalglish may even play with all three at the back, but this is unlikely as Chelsea do not seem to play with the famed three-pronged attack of days gone by.
At the other end of the field, Luis Suarez is likely to start, following an back injury sustained whilst playing for Uruguay in the week. Suarez will have to be at his menacing best in this one. I would imagine Dalglish will employ Suarez as a lone attacker, or perhaps with Craig Bellamy alongside or in an advanced wide midfield role as we’ve seen before now.
Midfield will consist, I’m fairly sure of Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva, in the middle with Stewart Downing and Stuart Downing controlling the flanks. I don’t think this is a game for Andy Carroll but Dalglish could pair him with Luis Suarez to threaten the defensive strength of the “amiable” John Terry.
Overall, I’m optimistic for this game. If Liverpool stay solid at the back and look to exploit the advanced position in which Andre Villas-Boas deploys his defence then I think they’ll get the result they want. In so far as opposition players are concerned, I think an old adage shall suffice: We don’t need to talk about the opposition players, we’ll worry about our own. They can worry about us!
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