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Chelsea v Liverpool preview

02 Oct 2009 11:50:11

Chelsea v Liverpool preview

Premier League title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool renew rivalries at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with an added twist in the first of this season's meetings. Ex-AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti is now in charge of the Blues, meaning he will recommence his battle with Rafa Benitez following two UEFA Champions League final clashes in the past. Liverpool manager Benitez came out on top following a dramatic penalty shoot-out in the memorable 2005 encounter in Istanbul, while Ancelotti and Milan gained revenge two years later in Athens. But Ancelotti will not only be concerned by the tactics Benitez uses when Liverpool arrive in West London because for the first time since he arrived in England in the summer he finds himself under the spotlight. Chelsea slipped to a shock loss at Wigan last weekend and they were far-from-impressive at Apoel Nicosia in the Champions League in midweek, sparking analysis of their stutter. Ancelotti, though, will be buoyed by the fact that Liverpool suffered a significantly worse night in Europe on Tuesday as they were comprehensively beaten by Fiorentina in Florence, earning stern criticism from Benitez. The Reds hammered Hull City in their last league outing, but the defeat on the continent has renewed suggestions that they are not the force they would like to be this season, and Chelsea will want to take advantage. DesperateAncelotti will be without suspended goalkeeper Petr Cech after he was sent off against Wigan at the DW Stadium, so Henrique Hilario will start. John Obi Mikel is ruled out and Chelsea are awaiting fitness news on Alex, Michael Ballack and Daniel Sturridge. The in-form Didier Drogba is certain to start and Joe Cole is also in contention after recovering from a long-term knee injury, with both players enjoying excellent records against Liverpool. Frank Lampard will be desperate to hit the back of the net as the England midfielder's form is questioned following a poor return in front of goal this season. Liverpool are hopeful midfielder Javier Mascherano will have recovered from the hamstring injury which ruled him out in midweek. Fabio Aurelio will drop to the bench if the Argentine is available. Daniel Agger is closing on full fitness following a back injury and recently featured for the reserves but Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher should keep their places, despite questions regarding the latter's position in Benitez's plans. Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will have a point to prove in their attacking partnership after being kept unusually quiet during the defeat to Fiorentina. Possible starting XIsChelsea: Hilario, Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole, Essien, Kalou, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka. Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Kuyt, Lucas, Mascherano, Benayoun, Gerrard, Torres.


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