Premier League match time returns to Stamford Bridge when Liverpool play Chelsea in a second leg on Sunday 6 February.
The first leg between the teams, on November 7 at Anfield, was won 2-0 by host Liverpool. The match marked a return to form for Torres, who scored both goals for Hodgson’s team, in the 11th and 44th minutes. The brilliance of the Spanish forward gave his beleaguered coach a chance at life at Anfield.
But the score doesn’t tell the whole story, as Chelsea dominated 69% possession on the day. For Chelsea, Malouda and Zhirkov missed opportunities due to bad corner kicks.
The real man of the match was Lucas, not Toirres, and Kelly was another player who stood up to be counted in Glen Johnson’s absence. Carragher stood out as a center-back, and seems to have filled Alonso and Mascherano’s boots. Hodgson’s 4-4-2 formation against a strong Chelsea midfield looked suicidal, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Lucas led the game. While he was excellent at tackle, he showed a lot of adventure and precision in his passing. Meireles was another player who had a great day in the Liverpool office; he’s turning out to be a better substitute for Xabi Alonso than Aquilani.
Defensive lapses cost Chelsea the game as Torres exploited the space between Terry and Cole to score. That said, the Blues dominated the second half, in which Liverpool appeared to be devoid of vision or passing ability.
Head-to-head, Chelsea lead 9-5 in the last 16 league games between the two teams.
In their last 10 league games this season, Ancelotti’s team won 4, lost 2 and drew all 4. Liverpool won 5 of their last 10 games, lost 4 and drew one. Chelsea have won 8 of 11 home games this season, while drawing 2 and losing the remainder. Liverpool have lost 8 of 12 away games and won and drew 2 apiece. Both teams are coming off victories in week 25 of games; Chelsea won 4-2 away at Sunderland, while Liverpool beat Stoke 2-0 at home.
In its current form, Saturday’s game is likely to be very close, with Chelsea enjoying home advantage.
Chelsea had the following men in their starting eleven against Sunderland: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Mikel, Essien, Anelka, Drogba and Kalou. Malouda, Ramires and Ferreira played as substitutes.
Liverpool’s starting eleven against Stoke consisted of Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger Kyrgiakos, Johnson, Gerrard, Lucas, Aurelio, Meireles and Kuyt. Shelvey and Suarez were used as substitutes.