Preview of Liverpool v Chelsea Clash

If you remember back to the last time Chelsea played Liverpool, the goal that separated the two sides was a wonderful twist and volley by Didier Drogba back on September 17th. Liverpool dominated most of the first half and hit the crossbar, but their finishing wasn’t clinical in front of goal.In some ways, not much has changed since that match. Chelsea’s form is still way below par of what they achieved last year. Liverpool is still suffering from the same problems of not scoring when it matters.But for Saturday’s early kickoff (which you can join in on during the 7:45am ET EPL Talk Chat), this match means much more than earlier in the season. A loss for Chelsea combined with a Man United win at the Emirates could write off Chelsea’s chances of winning the Premiership title three years in a row. A loss for Liverpool and a win by Arsenal against Man United would push the Reds down into fourth place and would give Arsenal the confidence to solidify their third spot over Liverpool.The key for Liverpool this Saturday will depend on whether Jermaine Pennant will play on the right wing. And if he does, whether he can stretch Chelsea’s width opening up spaces near the middle to allow Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy or Peter Crouch more room to score. If you remember from the Chelsea against Liverpool match at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, the Blues had a very difficult time closing down Pennant who was a constant threat during the first half.Speaking of Liverpool, I don’t always agree with Rafa Benitez’s team selection and formation when the Reds play Chelsea. In previous matches, he’s resorted to a 4-5-1 formation which stifles Chelsea’s midfield but allows for few attacking options for Liverpool. I feel Liverpool would be better off playing a 4-4-2 and playing more adventurous against a Chelsea side which is feeling pretty vulnerable right now.Chelsea could put this match out of Liverpool’s reach within the first 30 minutes if they select the right formation and players. I’d prefer to see Chelsea storming out of the gates and playing the type of football they’re most dangerous at — attacking with venom and using the wings to open up defenses.With Drogba as centre forward, Arjen Robben on the left wing and Shaun Wright-Philips on the right, this will allow Chelsea to pull apart the Liverpool defense which has looked particularly weak in matches against Arsenal and Everton (earlier in the season). Chelsea knows it must win this match to have a chance to lift the trophy this season. A more conservative formation of 4-5-1, which they’ve been playing for much of the season, could self-destruct against a Liverpool side.Prediction: Liverpool 0 – 2 Chelsea

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