Last season, despite a terrible 2012 and missing out on almost every goal set before them, Liverpool managed sweep Chelsea in the league, beating them at Stamford Bridge with a beautiful Glen Johnson goal and thrashing them 4-1 at Anfield, when Roberto Di Matteo was giving up the Premier League and focusing everything he had on parking the bus and winning in the Champions League.
A year has past. Chelsea are European champions, trying to evolve from a team that lucks out on their ways to victories and scrappy finals to a team everyone enjoys to watch, with Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar responsible for the stylish revolution, which is going rather well, although glaring obstacles and flaws are presented along the way, teaching us about an unbalanced team that hinges around a creative attack with a striker that is sometimes afraid of his own shadow.
Liverpool have a clean sweep over Chelsea in the league since Fernando Torres left. In fact, Liverpool have won their last four league matches against Chelsea, as shocking as it may sound, in a rivalry that was much more tighter and usually leaning towards Chelsea since Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho began managing the two teams in August 2004.
But Liverpool, with 11 points after 10 matches, ranked 12th in the Premier League, are miles away from where Chelsea are, in mind and spirit as well. They’re six points behind a champions league spot, but also only six points above the relegation zone. Watching them play this season hasn’t been such a disappointment when it comes to ability and style, but goals have been hard to come by, with Luis Suarez scoring 7 of the team’s 13.
Chelsea are in a different sphere, a different world. They’ve lost only once in the league this season, the highly controversial 2-3 defeat at home to Manchester United, stirring all the Mark Clattenburg drama about to be resolved. They are finding Europe a beat harder to conquer in a very tough group, but their win over Shakhtar might be a huge boost for the rest of the season, or at least in the short term view.
We can talk tactics all we want, and how the Liverpool defense and midfield will struggle with a Chelsea side that tries to move the ball quickly to one of their front trio, while hoping Fernando Torres cooperates. Liverpool have a problem with their defensive midfield, which might mean that all three – Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and possibly Nuri Sahin, will be busier doing defensive work than what they prefer to do.
Liverpool might give Chelsea more than a few problems if their passing game is on, but when you get down to it, everything depends on Luis Suarez, while Raheem Sterling and Suso (possibly) help from the wings. Sterling, just a word of advice for Rodgers, is much better when he plays on the right side. Prediction? Hard to look past Chelsea in this one, but we’ll say it again. They’re not as good as their record shows.