Rafael Benitez’s first return to Anfield as a Manager of a different club happens to be the most interesting headline of the day. The Chelsea FC interim manager knows there is more to that headline as the London club hopes to keep tabs on Champions League football next season.
Chelsea have been impressive in recent fixtures, their last Premier League loss was in March away to Southampton; this game comes on the wake of a 3- 0 away defeat of Fulham. The Spaniard was quick to warn his side against Liverpool’s attack- minded style of football stressing the need for a strong defence as they go into today’s game two points behind Arsenal (3rd) who have played two more matches than the Blues. A Chelsea win will see them climb to 3rd place on the log, while a draw or a loss hampers their chances of a top four finish with Tottenham (5th) on their heels.
Brendan Rodgers’ side may not be nursing a Champions League dream at the moment considering the fact that they are 7th on the log, however the team could still earn a slot in Europe and the tendency rests on their performances as the season draws to a close. The Merseyside club who last lost away to Southampton had been impressive against big clubs this season; going into this match, the manager expects a similar stroke of fortune.
“It’s a game we’re really looking forward to- in the big games this season our performances have been really good.”
The Liverpool manager has no new injury concerns although he may be tempted to freshen things up after back to back goalless draws. Raheem Sterling has sat out recent games with a thigh problem while Fabio Borini and Joe Allen are both out as a result of a shoulder injury. Another player that is not in contention for today’s game is defender Martin Kelly, who has been ruled out because of a knee injury.
Chelsea’s trip to Anfield is their third game in one week and the manager is likely to rotate his squad once more, meaning ex- Reds striker Fernando Torres, captain John Terry and midfielder Frank Lampard may return to the bench.
Defender Ashley Cole (hamstring) and Gary Cahill (knee) trained on Friday and could be in contention for today’s clash. Marko Marin who has been out due to a thigh injury will be available for selection.
It took a late second half equalizer from Luiz Suarez to square up the results when both clubs met at Stamford Bridge after a John Terry goal put the home team ahead. Rafael Benitez will be expecting a rousing welcome on his first trip to Anfield, at the end of ninety minutes; he would be more delighted if he had earned the necessary three points. Anything on the contrary wouldn’t please the traveling fans. Dictating play today will be referee Kevin Friend.