As we approach the end of the season - each game becomes more important than the last. And whilst the Manchester clubs fight it out for 1st place there are still a number of battles taking place beneath them in the table.
The second Premiership fixture this Sunday pits perennial (league) under achievers Liverpool against currently 3rd placed Chelsea. A win for Liverpool would see them regain some pride after a poor campaign (and keep their miniscule European qualification hopes alive) whilst a win for Chelsea would see their grip on 3rd place strengthened. But who will come out on top?
Despite some positive results along the way – this season will generally be known as a season of transition and disappointment for Liverpool. The usual early season optimism from fans quickly disappeared and the club now find themselves in 7th place - 6 points behind their fierce rivals Everton (the Merseyside derby is on the 5th and make no mistake about it – that game will be massive).
At home - Liverpool are on quite good form with four wins from their last 6 games and this form ranks them as 6th (compared to rest of the Premiership) on recent home form. Liverpool have the third best home defensive record in the Premiership and are ranked as 5th overall for their attacking play. Of the 10 games played so far against teams above them in the league this season though – Liverpool have one just once.
Following the Champions League victory – expectations were high at Stamford Bridge this season (and rightly so). But after a great start to the campaign – the wheels started to come off the Chelsea victory bus as they found themselves slip from title contenders to 3rd place contenders.
Current away form ranks Chelsea as 7th (in comparison to the rest of the league) following 3 losses in their last 6 games – but when home form is taken into account as well – Chelsea rank as 5th overall. Chelsea have a great record of scoring away from home (averaging 1.81 goals per game) and are defensively strong as well (on average conceding 1.21 goals a game).
It’s a football cliché, but this game really could go either way – and it could well come down to which team has more desire for victory. Will it be a happy return to Anfield for Benitez?
My prediction: Liverpool 1 – 2 Chelsea
image: © Viking-