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    Chelsea vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Liverpool need to avoid defeat when they travel to fifth-place Chelsea on Sunday in order to seal a place in next season's Champions League.

    The Reds have already booked a place in the final of this season's competition courtesy of a 7-6 aggregate victory over Italian side Roma, with defending champions Real Madrid awaiting Jurgen Klopp's side in the final later this month.

    Tottenham's defeat against West Brom on Saturday has opened the door for Chelsea to make a late charge towards a top-four position themselves, and they will move to within two points of their London rivals with a win against Liverpool.

    Chelsea

    Chelsea have returned to form in recent weeks having won three consecutive away matches in the Premier League in addition to beating Southampton at Wembley last month to reach a second successive FA Cup final.

    The Blues trailed Tottenham by eight points in the table after both teams had played 32 matches but Mauricio Pochettino's side have since taken only seven points from their last four league games.

    Victory on Sunday would still leave Champions League qualification out of Chelsea's hands but it would ramp up the pressure on both Liverpool and Tottenham in the final week of the league season.

    Given that Antonio Conte's team have an inferior goal difference to both sides, it would mean that Spurs would need to lose one or draw both of their final two matches, while Liverpool would need to drop points against Brighton next Sunday.

    Chelsea have only failed to qualify for the Champions League once in the previous 15 seasons, although that failure was sandwiched in between their two recent title successes of 2014-15 and 2016-17. 

    The club have not beaten The Reds in any of their last six encounters, although they did claim a creditable point at Anfield in November when a late Willian strike cancelled out Mohamed Salah's opener.

    Eden Hazard is Chelsea's top scorer in 2017-18 with 16 goals in all competitions, one more than £58 million summer signing Alvaro Morata, while Willian has also netted an impressive 13 times this campaign.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool have enjoyed a momentous week having reached an eighth European Cup final, with the 4-2 defeat to Roma on Wednesday night enough to secure the club's passage to Kiev on May 26 where they await Real Madrid.

    Goals from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum gave the visitors a 2-1 lead on the night, 7-3 on aggregate, before three second-half goals from the Italians threatened the most unlikeliest of comebacks in the tie.

    It means that Liverpool will try to win Europe's premier club competition for a sixth time, three more than any other English club, while it will also be a repeat of the 1981 final which The Reds won 1-0 in Paris.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have stuttered in the Premier League of late, picking-up six points from a possible 12, although the German has rotated some of his players in those matches with the European campaign in mind.

    Liverpool produced a lackluster performance in last Saturday's 0-0 draw against Stoke, although the point at least ensures that the club's top-four chances will be in their own hands on the final day of the season.

    With the Champions League final nearly three weeks away, Klopp is expected to name a strong line-up this weekend with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino all likely be included in the starting XI.

    Salah failed to add to his tally of 43 goals against Stoke and Roma but another against his former employers on Sunday would edge him closer to Ian Rush's club record of 47 goals that he managed in a single season.

    Chelsea Team News

    Chelsea are expected to name a similar line-up to the one which beat Swansea at The Liberty Stadium last weekend, with Marcos Alonso set to return after serving a three-match ban.

    The Spaniard is likely to replace Emerson in the left wing-back position, while Willian could come in for Tiemoue Bakayoko who has started the recent matches against Burnley and Swansea.

    Olivier Giroud has spearheaded the Chelsea's attack in recent weeks but Antonio Conte may decide to recall Alvaro Morata to share the workload as the club prepare to play three matches in the space of seven days.

    Danny Drinkwater (calf), David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) are all unavailable to The Blues this weekend after sustaining injuries, with all three players unlikely to feature again for the club this season.

    Liverpool Team News

    Liverpool are set to name a strong line-up to face Chelsea on Sunday, although Jurgen Klopp may decide to rest one or two of his players following their exploits in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

    Mohamed Salah is expected to face his former club, however, with the Egyptian just four goals short of equalling the 47 that Ian Rush scored throughout the club's 1983-84 campaign.

    Nathaniel Clyne, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings will all be vying for places in the starting line-up, although Klopp's options have been limited due to a number of injuries.

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Joel Matip (thigh) will miss the rest of the season, while Emre Can (back), Adam Lallana (hamstring) and Joe Gomez (ankle) are also currently on the sidelines.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool have enjoyed the edge over Chelsea during the past three years, with The Reds winning two and drawing four of the past six encounters including November's game at Anfield that finished 1-1.

    Chelsea, themselves, put together an eight-game unbeaten run in the head-to-head between November 2012 and May 2015, which included a 2-1 aggregate win in the semi-finals of the 2015 League Cup.

    Both teams have triumphed on 19 occasions apiece in the 51 matches that have taken place in the Premier League since the competition started in 1992, while 13 matches have ended in draws.

    Liverpool lead the way in the all-time history of the fixture, with 77 victories from the 178 matches contested between the sides, although Chelsea have won 61 games themselves and a further 40 have been drawn.

    Score Prediction

    Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
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    Item Reviewed: Chelsea vs Liverpool Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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