Liverpool look to get back on track and put their disappointing loss at The Etihad behind them with a trip to the land of plastic flags. With this their last match of 2013, I think we can all admit that few of us would have imagined being top of the table at Christmas and just three points back heading into the final match of the calendar year. With that has come renewed expectations, but that is a good thing. It means we all know the level this team is capable of playing at.
Chelsea come into this on a decent run of form having only lost one of their last six. That said, I think even their most ardent supporters would admit they have failed to impress overall. This should be particularly worrisome for them as they brought in their savior (who wanted the United job) and they only have 2 players injured, Bertrand and Van Ginkel. Given a full compliment of players, it has to be frustrating to see their team struggling in matches. However, Chelsea are finding ways to win and are inexplicably sitting in third right now. Obviously, it isn't how you win, but the result that matters and Chelsea are getting those even with Mata in Mourinho's dog house.
As for Liverpool, we all know what happened at City and we also all know the team effort we saw. It was immense and if they can find that drive for the rest of the season it will be a two horse race to the title. However, Liverpool are struggling with injuries, so much so that Brad Smith made the bench. Flanagan still appears as if he will be unable to go as well so it is likely little will change. Well, maybe we'll see a different CB pairing.
This is very winnable and the stakes are high. I said before all of this I'd be happy with 3 points out of 6 from these two matches and I stand by that. With all of these games away from Fortress Anfield, the schedule gets easier later on in the year which should help ease the wounded back into the line up. This is a must win though if Liverpool are to keep pace with the top 6 peloton.
Our pre-match thoughts:
-Please please start Agger. One, we need him to give Torres the forearm shiver to the face again. Two, Skrtel was at fault in some sense for both goals against City. He needs a break and we need a break from his WWE like defending. (Adam)
-What did Toure do to fall out of favor? He was fantastic early in the season. (Adam)
-I get the sense that Rodgers has something against starting two left footers at CB, which I don't really get. But he can still go ahead and start Kolo in place of Skrtel. (loyal2reds)
-Well, as long as they don't get a referee from Shephard's Bush, we should be better off. That was possibly THE worst reffed match ever. And I've watched many horrible displays from Howard Webb. (JAceKopite)
-Worst might be a bit strong, although Lee Mason and Co were pretty bad. Nonetheless I expect a better refereeing display against Chelsea. (loyal2reds)
-As Adam said, drop Skrts... He isn't Triple H for flim sake. Sakho also lost the head at one point during the match, and while their strikers aren't exactly on form, they finish better. (JAceKopite)
-And also, take Victor Moses & Aly Cissokho and punt them as far as humanly possible. Aly was lost for most of the first half, and as for Vic, he did absolutely nothing. Phil didn't do anything to be warranted of being taken off in the City match, and if anything, BR could have taken Allen off. (JAce)
-On a better note, we played some great football against one of the best defenses in the Premier League... If we could have got the rub of the green with the calls, we could have easily won the match. Hopefully we'll look at that loss based on Form, and not the result and it'll give us something to prove when we go to Chelsea. (JAce)
-Don't be afraid to join us for the game thread (which goes up thirty minutes before kickoff), we don't bite! Hopefully our star striker won't either. Sorry, still can't help myself.