Surely, nothing but a win against Liverpool today will give Chelsea any chance of gate-crashing the PRmier League’s top four and qualifying for the Champions League. A few weeks ago, afrer losing 3-1 to Tottenham, it seemed the Blues had been condemned to a season in playing in the Europa League.
However, a late charge – coupled with faltering opponents – means Chelsea have an outside chance of overhauling both Liverpool and Tottenham, which gives today’s match extra significance.
Liverpool go into this afternoon’s match knowing that a point will virtually seal a top-four finish. Jurgen Klopp’s side will arrive in west London in buoyant mood having progressed to the Champions League final against Real Madrid by getting the better of Roma 7-6 on aggregate in midweek.
The Liverpool manager has likened the weekend clash with Chelsea to a Champions League semi-final.
“Both games are very, very important,” said the German. “I have said it before. How I see, we have two semis again against Chelsea and Brighton. There is no chance to think of anything else and then we have two weeks to prepare for this game. It is not for three, it sounds crazy to prepare for this game now.
“In the end, we need to be ready for Chelsea, it is the same situation as Roma. It is clear we can make life easier for us if we get a result. It is always a difficult place, but we will try to be 100 per cent ready.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte thinks today’s clash could be a good time to play Liverpool after their exertions in Rome on Wednesday night.
Conte’s Chelsea, who are currently five points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur, are chasing fourth place in the Premier League standings. “This could be a good opportunity for us,” the Italian said. “As I said a lot of times in the last three games, if we want to keep the hope alive we have to win. We have to get three points.
“Liverpool are a good team. It won’t be easy, but if we want to keep alive the hope, we have to try to win, to get three points on Sunday.”
Chelsea will have left wing-back Marcos Alonso available to face Liverpool after the Spaniard served his three-match ban, while midfielder Danny Drinkwater – who has been left out for the last two games – also returns after a groin problem. However, both David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu are still out with injury.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are still missing Joel Matip, Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with injury, while defender Joe Gomez is also a doubt after missing the trip to Rome.
Chelsea are winless in their last six Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D3 L3). They last had a longer winless run against them in the top-flight between 1985 and 1990 (10 games).
Liverpool have won their last two Premier League games at Stamford Bridge – the only side to win three in a row away at the ground in the competition were Blackburn, between 1993-94 and 1995-96.