Playing a mind game
Telepathy will help Liverpool topple Chelsea out of the Champions League, according to Phil Thompson. The two English clubs meet at Anfield on Wednesday in the first leg of their quarter-final clash and Soccer Saturday pundit Thompson believes the partnership of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will prove too potent for the Blues. Since Spanish striker Torres arrived at Liverpool in August 2007, he and Gerrard have struck a combined total of 86 goals prompting comparisons with some Reds greats. "The movement of Torres and Gerrard makes them look telepathic; they don't even need to look to know what each other is doing," said Thompson. "They remind me very much of the Kenny Dalglish-Ian Rush partnership, where Rushie would just take off and Kenny didn't even look to find him. "He wouldn't play it to the man but just into the space behind the defenders knowing that Rush would already be on his way and Torres is like that as soon as Gerrard gets on the ball. "Dare I say it, I wouldn't be surprised if Chelsea go man-for-man on Steven Gerrard and put John Obi Mikel on him in some outrageous capacity where he just follows him around all day. "But you can't keep Steven Gerrard quiet for the whole of the game no matter what you do because he is so quick he can get away from any marker in the world." Liverpool are just one point behind Premier League leaders Manchester United in the Premier League after a strong run of form that included a comprehensive win over Sir Alex Ferguson's side and a 1-0 victory over Fulham at the weekend, courtesy of Yossi Benayoun's late winner. "I'm confident about Liverpool's chances - not over-confident - but the way things have panned out for them over the last six weeks I would think that they are in a very strong position," said Thompson. "They are on such a roll now that they are becoming unstoppable. The quality of the flowing football they played in the Champions League win over Real Madrid and then to beat Manchester United and Aston Villa was fantastic. "Benayoun's late winner (on Saturday) has only given them an extra lift ahead of this week. The players celebrated like madmen; they knew the importance of the goal and the togetherness that it brought. It was total mayhem among the players and the fans. "Liverpool look in good form from the back to the front at the moment and I don't think Chelsea - despite some good results - have been 100% solid at the back. "They've had a lot of injuries: Ricardo Carvalho has struggled for fitness this season and Alex has come in so they've had a few changes at the back. Jose Bosingwa's just been off and they don't look as solid at the back as they always have been. "I wouldn't be surprised if Chelsea leave Nicolas Anelka out and go with a 4-5-1 formation and use Didier Drogba as the target man and bring Michael Ballack back in. If Guus Hiddink goes 4-4-2 that will play into Liverpool's hands. "They are in good form but lack fluency, which in a way is typical Chelsea; they are very, very hard to beat and like Arsenal they are building momentum." The two teams are meeting each other in the competition for the fifth year inn a row and Thompson is expecting the contest to be another cagey affair. "This is two English teams who have great respect for each other and know what each is capable of. But the pressure can build on anyone at Anfield to the point where it all becomes unbearable for the opposition. "I think Liverpool will win 2-0 at home but the tie certainly won't be over after the first leg. I expect the return fixture to be a draw - probably 1-1."
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