Super Sunday: Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge
Second-Placed Chelsea take on Liverpool in third for the first big broadsides of 2022. The Blues are second best on form over the past eight on the road, but at home there is plenty of room for improvement.
Chelsea’s current misfortunes are well known, but this is a club that could easily have ‘Triumph in Adversity’ as its motto, and Stamford Bridge embraces few wins more enthusiastically than those against the Reds.
The reverse fixture at Anfield ended 1-1 despite Reece James’ controversial first-half dismissal, earning plaudits for a defensive masterclass from Thomas Tuchel’s side.
The Londoners are unbeaten in two against the Merseysiders, though they have won on their last two visits to the Bridge. Victory would ease the champions of Europe four points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s men, who have pocketed one point from their past two league games. Their second top-flight defeat of the season came at Leicester, but they have had a day extra to recover for this showdown. They have played one game fewer than Chelsea.
Christmas was especially expensive for Chelsea this year. Eight players have hobbled off the field in the past six league games, and opponents have scored four late goals.
Tuchel’s side have taken the lead on 21 occasions this term but conceded nine equalising goals. That translates to 11 points lost from winning positions – more than the 10 recorded over the whole of last season.
The Bavarian’s key selection concern is in the wing-back position, where the qualities of in-form Reece James (a major doubt for today’s game) and long-term absentee, Ben Chilwell will be sorely missed.
Marcos Alonso may continue on the left, but unless an option can be found to release Cesar Azpilicueta from centre-back, Christian Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi will be handed the responsibility on the right.