Liverpool welcome Chelsea to Anfield for their final home game of the season, which will see the Premier League finally lifted by the men in red for the first time in 30 years.
Liverpool are winless in their last two games as the post-title winning hangover continues. A draw at home to Burnley was followed by a defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates. Two rare lapses of judgement in defence saw the Reds lose for the third time this season.
Chelsea booked their place in the FA Cup final at the weekend as they humiliated Manchester United 3-1. The London club’s performance was impressive as they made light work of the semi-final tie. Their league form over the last fortnight has seen them win three from four which saw them jump ahead of Leicester City into third place.
Liverpool lost for only the third time in the league this season as Arsenal came from behind to secure a big three points at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta fielded a weakened side with his sights firmly on the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.
Liverpool started strongly and dominated. Right up until the 30th minute the Reds looked as if they would win quite comfortably as they cut through the Gunners time and time again. Sadio Mané gave the away side a deserved lead after Andy Robertson laid the ball on a plate for the winger to finish from less than 10 yards.
A weak Virgil van Dijk back pass allowed Alexandre Lacazette to nip in and round Alisson to score an undeserved leveller, before the Brazilian himself was at fault for the second when a wayward kick was cut out by Arsenal’s first goal scorer. His cross found Reiss Nelson who feinted round Joe Gomez before dispatching beyond Alisson to give the home side an unlikely lead.
Mohamed Salah should have levelled the score, but Emiliano Martínez was equal to the Egyptian’s weak effort. The Arsenal goalkeeper then produced a superb save close to full-time, tipping Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected effort onto the post.
Chelsea’s Premier League campaign was put on hold as they travelled the short distance to Wembley to try to secure a place in the FA Cup against Arsenal. Frank Lampard clearly showed intent on winning the competition as he named a strong side.
Chelsea started strong and their best chance fell to Reece James, but his effort from 30 yards was parried away by David De Gea. The Blues continued to dominate but had little to show for their effort until the 11th minute of first-half injury time, when César Azpilicueta linked up with Willian on the right-hand side, who crossed in for Olivier Giroud to stick out a leg to open the scoring.
Mason Mount doubled the lead within a minute of the restart after United lost possession in midfield. He decided to try his luck on the edge of the box. his effort was weak and De Gea should have saved easily, but he let the ball fumble through his hands. United’s misery was complete when Harry Maguire put the ball into his own net from Marcos Alonso’s cross.
Bruno Fernandes scored a late penalty to get United on the scoresheet, but it meant little as the game finished 3-1.
Jordan Henderson and Joël Matip are still unavailable for selection due to injury. Xherdan Shaqiri has made the bench the past few games but his minutes on the pitch will be limited with a summer move away from the club looking increasingly likely.
Dejan Lovren will also be on the fringes for the remaining two games. The centre back has been linked with a £9million move to Zenit St. Petersburg.
Naby Keïta should be the only change to the starting XI. The Guinean will replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who continues to struggle to find form.
Much of the team have struggled similarly since the title win was confirmed which has seen the Reds unable to match the Premier League points record. When we do play, only a couple of our players play well while many have put in sub-par performances.
Hopefully a full week’s rest will rejuvenate Liverpool and allow the players to cap off this incredible season in style.
Frank Lampard only needs one win from his remaining two games to book Chelsea’s place in the Champions League next season so should name a strong starting eleven.
N’Golo Kante is Chelsea’s only injury concern, the French midfielder missed the FA Cup tie and has also been ruled out of making an appearance at Anfield.
Kepa will start between the sticks having been rested at the weekend. The Spanish goalkeeper has his critics but does look unbeatable when he is on his game.
Lampard could be tempted to stick with the 3-4=3 formation due to how well it worked at Wembley, Andreas Christensen is likely to come into the defence replacing Kurt Zouma.
Jorginho and Mateo Kovačić will likely start again in midfield, the duo controlled the game and out passed United’s press with ease. This will help them prepare for Liverpool’s press though our midfield will be a lot more agile and physical.Embed from Getty Images
Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic could replace Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount in attack to give the front line a burst of pace.
With the title being lifted under the Anfield lights, the players should want to end the season on a high, as well as going unbeaten at Anfield for a second consecutive season in the league.
Chelsea will be no pushovers however, as all three games against them this season have been tight affairs. Each team has tasted victory over the other, while Liverpool won in the UEFA Super Cup on penalties after the match ended in a draw.
The Reds miss their captain in midfield and without him the midfield lacks aggression and discipline. Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keïta will need to step up to ensure Henderson is not missed too much here.
Whatever happens, Liverpool will want to play well so that they can step onto that platform with pride in order to hoist the Premier League trophy aloft.
Predicted final score: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea
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