Chelsea V Liverpool at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview

29 December 2013 11:51
Chelsea V Liverpool - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Cech eyeing Blues record

Petr Cech believes success for Chelsea in Sunday's Barclays Premier League crunch clash with Liverpool is dependent on having a miserly defence as the goalkeeper eyes another landmark.

Following clean sheets against Arsenal and Swansea, the Czech goalkeeper is aiming to match Peter Bonetti's club record of 208 on his 456th appearance. Bonetti made 729 Blues appearances.

It will not be easy at Stamford Bridge against a Liverpool side who have netted 43 goals in the Premier League this season, including 19 in 13 games for Luis Suarez.

Cech, who recorded his 150th Premier League shutout on Monday at Arsenal, said on "It is a great milestone for a goalkeeper and I am one clean sheet away from Peter Bonetti's all-time record.

"It would obviously be fantastic to get that in the Liverpool game."

The Liverpool contest is Chelsea's ninth match in December in a month where Jose Mourinho's men have claimed five wins, lost twice and drawn once.

The last two matches - a goalless draw at Arsenal and a 1-0 defeat of Swansea - were the first time Chelsea had kept consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League this season.

Cech hopes the stubborn streak continues against a Liverpool side bidding to respond from their defeat at Mourinho's title favourites Manchester City.

"Beating Swansea with the other results that day was an important three points and now we are in a good position to go face to face with Liverpool," Cech added.

"You need everybody to do as much as possible to defend and not give away cheap goals because, as the fatigue accumulates in this hectic period, it becomes more difficult to find the energy to overturn games.

"When you get the lead and keep a clean sheet it is more easy to win a game.

"Against Swansea we had chances when we could have killed the game off but we had to fight until the last second and we did well.

"Sometimes it is difficult when you have two games against main rivals and between you have a game everybody says that you should win. It is not easy to concentrate and in that respect we did very well.

"I had one save to make all game and we did well at Arsenal and back-to-back cleansheets is very positive for everyone.

"If we can score more goals it will become easier for us."

Cech's continued good form means Mourinho's summer goalkeeping quandary could become increasingly challenging.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is on loan at Atletico Madrid for a third season and impressing and attracting admirers, including Barcelona.

Another Belgian in a rich vein of form is Eden Hazard, who netted the winner against Swansea for his seventh Premier League goal of the season.

Hazard will be hoping for another strong display against a Liverpool team expected to provide a stern test.

"A big match, another big match," Hazard told Chelsea TV.

"They play very well. They have the best scorer with Suarez. "(Steven) Gerrard is injured, and (Daniel) Sturridge. Good for us.

"But they're a very, very strong team and it will be difficult."

Chelsea will be without midfielder Ramires, who is suspended for one game after picking up a fifth booking of the season against Swansea.

Frank Lampard is likely to return to the starting line-up in place of Ramires, while Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill are in line to return in defence at the expense of Ashley Cole and David Luiz.

Fernando Torres could start up front against his former club as Mourinho rotates his options.

Rodgers has no complaints as his side head to Chelsea for the second part of a double-header he claims could not be harder.

The Reds, who topped the Barclays Premier League at Christmas, travel to Stamford Bridge to face another title challenger just three days after a battling loss at Manchester City.

Liverpool impressed at the Etihad Stadium but were edged out 2-1 in a thrilling game of chances and controversy and the challenge is now to maintain that intensity against Mourinho's men.

Rodgers said: "For us it couldn't be any tougher. We're playing against the two teams who arguably have the two best squads in the league.

"They can change all 11 players and still have a team that challenges at the top of the table.

"We'll go into the game and do our best, that's what we have done.

"Of course this period is always difficult, no matter what way you look at it.

"It's not ideal but it's what happens and it's what makes it exciting to be in the country at this time. We embrace it and we'll look to get a result."

Rodgers knows Mourinho well having worked under him as a youth-team coach during the Portuguese's first spell with the London club.

Mourinho returned in the summer amid high expectation but his team have been criticised of late for playing without spark and lacking a cutting edge.

Yet they remain firmly in title contention and Rodgers feels that could be an ominous sign for rivals.

He said: "They have a lot of quality. Over the last 10 years they have been one of the most successful clubs in the country and in Europe.

"How they have been building up that squad and changing it has been remarkable.

"They have got a host of talented players and a world-class manager. We understand how difficult it will be.

"They are getting the results and that is all that will concern Jose and the supporters.

"Every team will always look to improve their performance level.

"Certainly with him coming into a new group of players, it will take him time to understand the method of how they work.

"But they are up there in that top four, where they would expect to be."

Liverpool are short on numbers with forward Victor Moses ineligible to play against his parent club and the likes of Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Joe Enrique and Jon Flanagan sidelined.

But Rodgers is happy with the standards being set and found many positives in the Boxing Day reverse to City.

The result may have left them fourth after the game but the platform is still there for a possible title challenge.

Rodgers said: "The last game gives us confidence and belief, but we arrive into this game knowing it's going to be equally difficult.

"Over my time here, whatever squad we are working with, we have always been able to galvanise the group.

"The team has been able to go again and that's something that we'll look to do for the weekend.

"We've been improving as the season has gone on. If you look at the last number of weeks, the performance level and the standard has been at a real high level.

"I think we're a team that shows great confidence and belief in how we're training and how we're working.

"We're taking that confidence into any stadium, home or away, and that's always difficult for an opponent.

"I think you've seen the aggression, the charisma, the confidence and the consistency over these last 12 months.

"I think (our position) will fluctuate between now and the end of the season - one day you're first, then you're fourth.

"But as long as we're in the conversation with 10 games to go, then it will be all to play for.

"That's the idea, to arrive at that point in a position where we are going to be able to challenge."

Source: PA

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