All roads lead to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea host Liverpool in the star match of this weekend’s Barclay Premier League fixtures.
The ride has been bumpy for Jose Mourinho this season but he will hope his Chelsea side continue their recent fine run against Liverpool.
It’s been eight matches across all competitions since Liverpool defeated Chelsea though the Reds have drawn four of those contests.
Our soccer analyst, an Arsenal fan, saw those eight games so we can trust his examination, dissection, diagnosis, and prescription.
Why the medical terms? Well, Tunji Adeniji once worked in a hospital!
Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from a difficult seven days.
The Premier League champions lost their fifth league game of the season against West Ham last weekend, but the defeat was followed up by FA misconduct charges for the club, the manager and his assistant Silvino Louro.
The Blues were then eliminated from the Capital One Cup, a competition they won in March, by Stoke City on penalties.
And both clubs are hoping to avoid dropping almost completely out of the title race.
Liverpool are six points back of the Top Four, and eight behind the top of the table while Chelsea are 11 points behind leaders Manchester City.
Diego Costa and Pedro will undergo late fitness tests to determine if the pair will play this match.
Costa damaged ribs against Stoke on Tuesday while Pedro has been absent in recent games with an undisclosed knock.
The good news is that Nemanja Matic is available after serving a one-match suspension for his dismissal at West Ham but goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (knee) and defender Branislav Ivanovic (hamstring) remain out.
Liverpool expect to have Christian Benteke available again after he missed their midweek win over Bournemouth with a knee injury, but Daniel Sturridge is still at least another week away from a return.
Kolo Toure is another doubt with a hamstring injury sustained against Bournemouth, but James Milner is back from a ban.
John Terry v Christian Benteke
The Chelsea captain’s confidence has taken a battering this season, with all aspects of his game – heading, positioning, anticipation, decision-making and leadership – having been called into question. And with Benteke, Terry could be facing his toughest challenge this season.
The Belgian suffered a further injury setback during the week, missing out on League Cup action, but he is likely to feature against the Blues. And if he does, the Chelsea defence should be in for an uncomfortable day. Benteke, as Terry knows, will not be easy to contain.
Eden Hazard v Nathaniel Clyne
Hazard, the player of the season last term, has been poor this time out. His performances have shocked the world with his penalty miss on Tuesday epitomising his lack of confidence at present.
We all know that the Belgian is a class act so he will desperate to impress. And that’s bad news for Nathaniel Clyne who will need to be disciplined in his display and shouldn’t underestimate the ability of the wizard Hazard.
Cesc Fabregas v Emre Can
Can is a very good player that was not well utilised by former manager Brendan Rodgers. Klopp, however, appears eager to settle the Germany international as a holding midfielder – and so far, he has been excellent.
Fabregas is far from excellence this season; nonetheless, there will be no room for error from Can.
The former Arsenal player could play further forward, but even if he sits in a deeper role, Can will not want to give the Spaniard too much time on the ball.
Nemanja Matic v Philippe Coutinho
The Serbian was sent off in the defeat to West Ham and consequently missed Tuesday’s League Cup loss. Matic will be fresh for this game but I don’t think he will relish the prospect of having to contain Coutinho.
Though, the Brazilian has also been performing below standard, but out of the two, is certainly the more confident.
On his day, Coutinho is the player who gets Liverpool ticking, and Chelsea must therefore not allow him time or space on the ball.
If Matic starts, which is not automatic considering the mood his boss is at the moment, it’ll be his job to keep Coutinho silent.
Diego Costa v Martin Skrtel
Costa and Skrtel have history, but then there aren’t many centre backs in England, and the world, who haven’t come to blows with the Brazil-born forward.
Costa’s scoring boot has recently deserted him but is still expected to lead the Blues attack against the Reds. His match-winning antics, however, are still intact so Skrtel will have to show his maturity in not being affected by it.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Sun 10/05/15 BPL Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
Tue 27/01/15 LEC Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Tue 20/01/15 LEC Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Sat 08/11/14 BPL Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea
Sun 27/04/14 BPL Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six Premier League meetings with Liverpool, winning three and drawing three.
However, Liverpool have failed to score in just one of their last 10 league clashes with the Blues.
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have enjoyed just one victory in their five Premier League games against Liverpool (D2 L2), although are they unbeaten in the last three (W1 D2).
The Blues have lost two of their last four home league games after going unbeaten in the previous 21 (W15 D6).
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games (W1 D4), their longest top-flight unbeaten spell since March (13 games unbeaten).
Jose Mourinho has lost six of his last 12 Premier League matches; immediately before that run, he had lost six in 64 in the English top-flight.
Mourinho has only won one of his previous four meetings with Jurgen Klopp, all in the 2012-13 Champions League (D1 L2), including the semi-final where Dortmund beat Real Madrid 4-3 on aggregate.
Liverpool are without a win on their last five top-tier trips to London, losing two and drawing each of the last three.
This season, Cesc Fabregas has provided just one assist after the first 10 Premier League games; last season at this stage the Spaniard had already racked up nine.
Christian Benteke has netted 14 headers since the start of his first Premier League season in 2012/13, a haul no player can better (level with Olivier Giroud).
If we are to believe reports which suggest defeat to Liverpool would signal the end of Mourinho, who has overseen one of the worst starts to a title-defending Premier League campaign, then it won’t happen. Not after this game, though.
With just three wins and 11 points from 10 games – plus a League Cup exit to Stoke – the pressure is building on the Portuguese boss. The pressure could continue after the 1-1 draw, though.
Predictions of remaining fixtures
Swansea City 0-0 Arsenal
West Brom 1-2 Leicester City
Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester City 4-0 Norwich City
Newcastle United 1-1 Stoke City
Watford 2-2 West Ham United
Everton 2-0 Sunderland
Southampton 2-0 AFC Bournemouth
Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Aston Villa