Liverpool will welcome their most successful manager of the last two decades, Rafael Benitez as Chelsea visit Anfield. The reds are virtually out of the race for the Champions League places and will look to gather as many points as they can in the remaining fixtures to finish the season on a high.
Chelsea on the other hand face a crucial test today as far as the Champions League qualification is concerned as the race for top four is very tight. The blues were humiliated last time around at Anfield when the Reds beat them 4-1. Soccerisma looks at the 5 key battles that may decide the outcome of the game.
Suarez has been by far the best player in the premier league this season. The Uruguayan is the leading scorer in the league having scored 22 times for the reds. Terry has not really been a regular under Benitez since his return from injury but the captain may start the game against Liverpool.
Suarez has not scored in his last 4 league outings and Terry will look to make sure that his mini drought continues as last year Suarez literally ripped Terry apart at Anfield and the chances of that happening today are by no means less.
Liverpool fans remember this battle mainly because of Agger’s elbow. Torres and Ba are rotated on regular basis by Rafa but El Nino is likely to get the nod in perhaps his favorite stadium where he used to score for fun with Liverpool. Since his departure, Torres has lost 4 and drawn one of his games against Liverpool in which he has featured. Agger has been the best and most consistent defender for the reds this season and will look to stop the former number 9 yet again.
The battle between Gerrard and Lampard continues and both are still doing wonders for their sides even though they are nearing mid-30s. Gerrard has featured in every game and every minute for Liverpool and even at 32, he is the best midfielder for Reds. Lampard has not been that regular as Chelsea have many young talents available at their disposal. The battle will be an intriguing one as far as the midfield control is concerned and may decide the outcome of the game.
Although Hazard and Oscar can be equal attacking threats but Mata has by far been the best player for Chelsea this season and hence makes the list. The former Valencia man has scored 10 league goals and is the leading assist provider in the premier league. Lucas Leiva has not been as consistent as he was in the first half of the season last year and will have to be at his best if he is stop the Spanish maestro.
Both goalies have faced criticism this season for not being much reliable and will have to step up big time today. Despite all the ups and downs, Reina has been in decent form lately having kept two successive clean sheets in the premier league. The Spaniard was impressive in their last outing versus Reading and will look to continue that form against the Blues. Petr Cech has not been as brilliant as he was last season and will hope that Liverpool have one of those days again when nothing goes in for them even when they are dominating play.
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