Matthew Sinton examines Liverpool’s crunch clash with Chelsea at Anfield this evening.
Our huge slump in form since the turn of the year has come as a big shock after our blistering start to the season. With our only win of eight games since the new year coming in an FA Cup replay against Plymouth, many would say there couldn’t be a worse time to face table-toppers Chelsea. This could, however, work in our favour going into the match.
We are obviously desperate for any help we can get at the moment, which is why we sent a private jet to bring Sadio Mané straight home following Senegal’s exit from the African Cup of nations on Saturday night. He will only have had Monday to train so is unlikely to start, but even his presence on the bench means he will almost certainly play a part, which could be a huge boost. I don’t think Mane’s return will solve all our problems and make everything okay again, though. For that to happen, every single player in the squad has to turn it around.
Our win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in September now seems like a distant memory as the London club went on to win thirteen straight games and climb to the top of the table. A lot has changed for both teams and we are looking at a very different fixture this time round. Just over a week ago I would have been confident given it’s a home game, as we were unbeaten at Anfield in over a year. Somehow, we’ve lost here three times since then.
It’s not like stats mean a lot after that but if you want something to cheer you up going into tomorrow’s game, we’re the only team with an unbeaten record against the rest of the top six (three wins, three draws).
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Roberto Firmino’s court case was set to be on the same day as the game but has been pushed back by a day, so I expect him to start in the middle again. On the left side of him, will, of course, be Philippe Coutinho. On the right will either be Adam Lallana (or Divock Origi, perhaps) or Sadio Mané, depending on how ready the latter is. Emre Can will most likely remain in the midfield three unless Adam Lallana is allowed to come back into his deeper role. Nathaniel Clyne is still injured so Trent Arnold will get another chance against a top team, after really settling into his Premier League debut against Manchester United a few weeks ago.
I know the fans’ mood isn’t good at all at the moment, but I’m not too pessimistic going into this game. It’s very typical of us to turn up for the big occasions, regardless of our form. Here’s hoping we can turn it around.