The First Title Clash: Chelsea vs. Liverpool
On Sunday at 11:00 AM, the Premier League will be treated to its first significant title clash when Liverpool take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Indulge me while I set the scene for the match. Chelsea and Liverpool have met 4 times or more for the past five years and until quite recently, the matches have been as dull as a Pompey shooting session. They will meet at Stamford Bridge where Liverpool ended Chelsea’s historic unbeaten run in the same fixture last season. The match will be just months after Chelsea emphatically eliminated Liverpool from the Champions League. There will be plenty of revenge for both teams and it has the potential to be make-or-break for both Ancelotti’s Chelsea and Benitez’s Liverpool.
Some of the readers will immediately bring up that I’m ignoring the United-Arsenal match as a title clash. No disrespect to Arsenal(who I now have a soft spot for after Adebayor proved to be a childish, hypocritical, drama-queen) but most of us never thought Arsenal had a chance of winning the Premier League. Not to say they are out of it – I’m sure an Arsenal fan will quickly note they have just as many losses as Liverpool – but it’s just my opinion. You may say I’m simply alienating Arsenal so I can create a post with the title, “The First Title Clash,” and I would tell you: you’re right.
Chelsea sit second in the table with Manchester United on top only by goal difference. Liverpool, in third place, top the mini-league of 15 pointers with their impressive goal difference. A Liverpool victory would see last season’s table take shape as they would leap-frog Chelsea. You know, my inner Chelsea fan is always optimistic that when we play Liverpool we’ll win and it will be exciting. In the Premier League, I’ve been disappointed on both fronts. Going through last few years it’s hard to remember a genuinely exciting match between the two. None were more boring than the 0-0 at Stamford Bridge in 2008, perhaps in the history of football. That’s okay though because they made up for it in the Champions League. My optimism for a Chelsea victory would be much greater had last week not occurred. Not only did Chelsea lose to Wigan, Liverpool proved to me that they are the best offense in the league, without a doubt. It should also be noted that Chelsea have failed to beat Liverpool in the Premier League since 2006.
It’s really a strange thing though. Chelsea-Liverpool matches have been the cagiest affairs of all big-four match-ups but still Chelsea and Liverpool fans really hold some sort of false hope that, “this time will be different.” It’s like Spurs thinking they’re going to make the top four every year. We all know how that one ends. Some small hope I can look to is the possibility that Liverpool lost their ability to kill entertainment when they sold Alonso. Surely Lucas cannot complement Mascherano as well as Alonso did. The Mascherano-Alonso tag team could commit 20 fouls a game and not see a card between them. Lucas is far too sloppy and obtuse to perform that feat with the grace of Alonso. If they try, one of the two will probably be sent off. That’s just wishful thinking, however. Knowing the Premier League, Lampard will himself be fouled and receive a red card(not a reference from last year, nope).
My humble prediction is a 1-1 with a great atmosphere and three games worth of crunching tackles. Torres will probably score, he always does against Chelsea. It was all downhill after he turned that buffoon Ben-Haim inside out a couple seasons ago.