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Chelsea v Liverpool: Key Battles To Watch As Reds and Blues Collide At Anfield

Chelsea will travel to Anfield on Sunday to take on a struggling Liverpool side that has earned just five points in its last four matches against four teams in the bottom half of the table.

After a beautiful 3-0 victory over Fulham, Chelsea recently regained their third place spot in the table ahead of Arsenal and below Manchester City. A brilliant strike from David Luiz was the highlight of Chelsea’s most the win at Craven Cottage, but the victory symbolized more than just three points for The Blues, it showed the resilience and focus of a Chelsea team that has faced more than its share of adversity this season.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez (Wikimedia Commons)

Since winning the Champions League last year, Chelsea has lost many key players including Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, and José Bosingwa to name a few; they have seen a mid-season manager change from Roberto Di Matteo to Rafa Benitez; and have dealt with potentially devastating injuries to key players, most notably captain John Terry, who missed more than two months with a knee injury. Even with such turmoil within the club however, Chelsea presently sits in position to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing in the top four.

Their most recent win over Fulham showed once again why Chelsea deserve so much credit this season as it was just three days after a heartbreaking FA Cup semifinal loss to Manchester City at Wembley Stadium. As they travel to Anfield in one of this weekend’s biggest matches, The Blues have a chance to essentially end Liverpool’s outside chance at a Europa League spot and take one step further towards capturing a top four finish.

On the other side, The Reds will have all hands on deck as they attempt to make one last push towards a top five finish and a Europa League spot. With four winnable matches following their clash with Chelsea, including a home match against rival and current sixth place side Everton, Liverpool mathematically still has a chance. After a rough start to the season, Brendan Rodgers has his team in the seventh spot, but having stumbled lately, Liverpool will be looking to make a statement to their fans and to Chelsea that they are indeed a top team.

A 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge back in November saw Liverpool sneak away with a point, but both teams will be looking to avenge that result with three points on Sunday. Let’s take a look at some of the key battles to watch in this weekend’s clash between Reds and Blues:

1) Luis Suarez vs. David Luiz

South American foes will collide on Sunday as Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez and Brazilian defender David Luiz will face off in one of the key battles to watch.

Luis Suarez is currently leading the league in scoring with 22 goals this season and is quite simply a special player. His craftiness combined with his knowledge of the game and finishing ability makes him arguably the most feared striker in the league. He scores headers, breakaways, bending shots and the list goes on. While he has been ridiculed for overreacting to contact, his brilliance on and off the ball cannot be denied.

On Sunday, Suarez will meet a defender with size, speed, and skill in David Luiz and it will be fun to watch. Luiz has proven to be one of the best central defenders in the league and with his South American background, is familiar with the way Suarez plays the game. With a defender as skilled on the ball as Luiz, he knows what moves to look for so Suarez will need to do a lot of his work off the ball and maybe stay away from Luiz if he wants to have a top-notch performance.

2) Steven Gerrard vs. Juan Mata

As one of the best midfielders in the league and arguably one of the most iconic players in history, Steven Gerrard plays his best in the biggest matches. Against Chelsea at home on Sunday, the world will be watching and Gerrard is sure to shine. As the leader and the conductor of Liverpool, Gerrard is the engine that makes the team run and on top of that, his nine goals are second on the team this season. Stevie G. as he is known, is always a key player to watch, but in this instance, is even more important because of the magnitude of the match and the opponent.

For Chelsea, Juan Mata has been a Steven Gerrard type presence this season with his ability to control tempo and make key plays. With ten goals and eleven assists on the season, Mata has been the rock in such times of turmoil. He brings a calming presence and gives Chelsea another creative player in the midfield. The battle between these two fantastic players will be a key battle to watch for the outcome of the match.

3) Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel vs. Demba Ba

With tattoos everywhere and crazy hairdos, the central defense for Liverpool may be one of the most intimidating in the world just by appearance. With Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel at the back, The Reds have a brawny wall that is very hard to penetrate. They bring toughness, strength, and effort to every single match and although they may not have the individual skill of say David Luiz, they have heart and fight in them unmatched by most. With great aerial ability and hard-nosed tackling, these two are tough for any striker, but for Chelsea striker Demba Ba, it may be even more difficult.

Demba Ba is a great player who is currently fifth in the Premiership with 15 goals this season, but what makes him so good is his size and strength. He holds up defenders well and can often break free from shoulder to shoulder battles because of his power. Unfortunately for him, strength is ironically the strength for his opponents on Sunday. Ba will need to work well off the ball to open up space to exploit his pace and avoid close contact with two players that have superior strength. Ba’s strike partner Fernando Torres will be facing his former club and having played better in recent weeks, could also open up some space for Ba to work. Torres will actually be a huge determinant in the winner of this key battle because if he is able to occupy the defense, Ba will have more freedom and may not be as tightly marked.

 

3 Comments on "Chelsea v Liverpool: Key Battles To Watch As Reds and Blues Collide At Anfield"

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  1. rananda says:

    Skrtel hasn’t been playing lately so the battle could be with Carra. Also, rarely do Ba and Torres play at the same time so that view might not happen either! Take out the apparent mistakes and it is an OK article.

  2. The Reds are still hoping to make a late charge into a European spot, while the Blues look to secure a Champions League berth.

    Prediction

    Liverpool 1
    Chelsea 1

  3. Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez 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.

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