CHELSEA VS LIVERPOOL
Second and third meet at Stamford Bridge in a tense start to 2022, as championship rivals Chelsea and Liverpool prepare for battle in the capital.
Last time out, Thomas Tuchel’s side were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton & Hove Albion, while the Reds were beaten 1-0 by Leicester City.
After Brighton took a point home from Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, a disgruntled Thomas Tuchel criticised his side’s expanding absentee list.
After 28 minutes, Romelu Lukaku scored his first goal since returning to the starting lineup, but last-minute hero Danny Welbeck equalised for the Seagulls in second-half injury time as Chelsea fell short once more.
The Blues have now dropped eight points behind league leaders Manchester City, and despite the fact that the season is just halfway through, Tuchel believes it would be “dumb” to expect his depleted squad to compete for top-flight gold.
Apart from the VAR comments, Chelsea’s previous five Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge have all finished in a 1-1 draw, and failing to keep a single home clean sheet in that time signals a significant decline from Tuchel’s once-reliable defence.
Despite the Blues manager’s comments, it would be foolish to rule Chelsea out of the title fight before the New Year, and they were undoubtedly helped by Leicester before the Reds’ confidence was shattered.
All signs pointed to a Liverpool triumph before the first ball was kicked at the King Power. After knocking the Foxes out of the EFL Cup, the Reds had a six-day break, whereas Brendan Rodgers was out of choices 48 hours after losing 6-3 to Manchester City.
Leicester, on the other hand, dug deep to earn a morale-boosting festive win in front of their home fans, with Ademola Lookman scoring off the bench before the Foxes defence held firm to dampen the emotions on Merseyside’s red half.
The defeat at the King Power was only Liverpool’s second in all competitions in the 2021-22 season, and the third-placed Reds are now nine points behind Man City despite having played one game fewer, while fourth-placed Arsenal is now only six points behind.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will, of course, jump the Blues back into second place with a win in London, but they have yet to beat three London clubs this season: Brentford, West Ham United, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea and Liverpool aren’t known for starting the year off well, but recent history favours the Reds, who have only lost two of their last 11 Premier League games against the Blues at Stamford Bridge.