Chelsea vs Liverpool | Sunday 10 May | Stamford Bridge | 17:00
Liverpool will be hoping to keep their top four hopes alive when they travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to take on newly-crowned Premier League champions Chelsea. The pair have been involved in some tasty clashes through the years which have fostered one of the great rivalries in recent times. Chelsea supporters will relish the sight of Steven Gerrard and Co clapping the Blues onto the pitch in the guard of honour but that could motivate the Reds to give it everything they have and become the first team in the league to win at ‘The Bridge’. Earlier this campaign, Chelsea clinched a 2-1 win at Anfield – while last season's corresponding fixture also ended in the same scoreline to the Blues.
To Win (90mins)
The club anthem Blue is the Colour (not sky blue) resounded around a joyful Stamford Bridge and champagne flowed as Chelsea clinched their first Premier League title for five years with a typically stubborn 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace last weekend. The Blues are the second highest scorers in the league with the best goal difference and have been top of the table since August. In the last few months the swagger they had at the start of the season may have eroded but it has been replaced by a hard-nosed determination to get over the line. Chelsea's duty isn't to the greater good of football, it's to the supporters who turn up to Stamford Bridge every week. They want to see success; they want to see their team winning. There's no better team in the division at doing that than the Blues, as the league table clearly shows. And while their rivals are worrying about how boring they are, Chelsea's biggest dilemma is when to order a bigger trophy cabinet. The 'Unlovables' have been so boring this season that they’ve won the title with three games to spare while remaining unbeaten on home soil and have had six players named in the PFA Team of the Year. Yawn...
As they come up against Liverpool this weekend, there won’t be any pressure on them with the title already wrapped up but Chelsea will be eager to prove why they are worthy winners of 2014/15. The Blues have a good recent record against the Reds – unbeaten in their last nine meetings with six wins and come into the clash on cloud nine. There are many dangerous players and huge scoring threats in this Chelsea team with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Willian, Juan Cuadrado and PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard. Hazard brings the magic that can win matches in one action and has the flair and artist's touch of the football. He has a great burst of pace, quick feet, and very good agility, all of which allows him to breeze past opposition defenders. Loic Remy is expected to start in place of aging hero Didier Drogba with 19-goal frontman Diego Costa set to be rested once again. Remy, who almost joined Liverpool in the beginning of the season has been superb whenever he's started and has scored the winner in each of his last two games.
Liverpool closed the gap with their 2-1 home defeat of QPR but the most likely scenario remains the Reds having to settle for the often frustrating demands of Thursday night European football next season. Heading into the final three games, they're down in fifth place, four points behind Manchester United. The Reds have been struggling for form having won just two of their last six matches with three defeats and are without a win away from home in their last three outings; losing to Arsenal and Hull City. Quite obviously, Liverpool have struggled this season due to their overall inability to score goals, having found the back of the net just 49 times with three league games to go, compared to last season's 38-game tally of 101. For a variety of reasons, this season Daniel Sturridge (injured), Mario Balotelli (disaster), Fabio Borini (overlooked) and Rickie Lambert (distrusted) have all struggled in a Liverpool shirt. The quartet have contributed just eight goals between them in the league which is absolutely ridiculous.
Jordan Henderson has been a key figure for the Reds netting six goals and providing eight assists. The Englishman brings an extra element of energy into the squad. He chases every ball, tirelessly down his channel, maintains the position perfectly and most importantly keeps an admirable level of concentration throughout the game. Philippe Coutinho’s displays this year have given supporters some solace and earned him a deserved place in the PFA Team of the Year. The Brazilian international is so important for the club that almost every attack is influenced by him and if he plays well then Liverpool play well. Coutinho brings creativity and invention to Brendan Rodger’s side and he could be a menace for Jose Mourinho’s men on Sunday.
VERDICT: Chelsea 21/20
Chelsea are favourites at 21/20 while Liverpool are priced up at 26/10. The Blues are unbeaten in their last 15 games with 11 wins and four draws. At home, Chelsea have won 14 of their 17 games played with three draws. Liverpool are struggled to find their rhythm with their misfiring strikers one of the major factors. With Chelsea champions already, we may get to see Mourinho make a few changes but even if he does, the Special One has high-quality that he can truly rely on. I’m backing the Blues to oust their opponents in boring fashion.