PREVIEW: Liverpool v Chelsea
Wednesday 31 January 2017, 7am AEST, Anfield
Daniel Garb, Foxtel Australia's Football reporter and a mad Red gives us his thoughts on the league leader Chelsea's season defining visit to Anfield.
After the lowest week in Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool reign which saw the side lose 3 in a row at Anfield and exit 2 cups, Garby is cautiously optimistic about this crunch game.
"We play well against the bigger teams" declared Garb.
"Under Klopp we have the best record against the top 6 clubs. We’ve gone into a lot of these big games not in the best shape with big questions about our form and delivered a great performance.
Daniel took heart from our previous encounters with the league leaders. "Two of our best performances under Klopp have been against Chelsea. Our 3-1 win that sent Jose packing last season and that fabulous 2-1 victory earlier this season with that Hendo screamer."
"Chelsea are in great form - a juggernaut at the moment. However Tottenham proved they are beatable."
"We might not win but I feel we will be competitive and put on a good show. I'm going for a 1-1 draw."
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The return of Sadio Mane is a big lift for LFC however one that must be tapered according to Garb.
"Mane's return is a massive boost. The first time we'll have him available up front with Lallana, Firmino and Coutinho since we hammered Watford 6-1" he said.
"But we need to be realistic here. Klopp has a big task in motivating Mane after his crushing exit in the African Nations Cup. Physically he may be fine but mentally he'll be shattered after missing that crucial penalty for his country. I suspect he may not be ready to start and will take a place on the bench.
"Matip should start alongside Lovren and key to our success is stopping Diego Costa. He's put his China dramas behind him and he's going to be at his bullying best. We handle the physical side well but our backline has been very disjointed of late."
So the big question, if we win is the title race back on?
"We have enough quality to go on a good run but I think the title may be beyond us given our patchy form. In saying that Chelsea have Arsenal coming up next so if they lose to us and then to the Gunners, you would think it's back on. If we do win we then have to get over the hurdle of beating the smaller sides (we have Hull next up). We win both those games then it's suddenly a 4 point difference" stated Garb.
"Look many of us never thought we'd win the title this season so regardless of what happens it's fantastic to see us up there. It will bode well for the future. We have a lot to be happy about despite our recent poor run."
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