Preview: Liverpool vs. Chelsea – Last chance for the Reds?

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  • Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 earlier this season
  • Chelsea lead PL, 10 points clear of Liverpool
  • Liverpool lost 3 home games in a row

Liverpool host Chelsea on Tuesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) knowing they simply must win to keep their slim title hopes alive.

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If Jurgen Klopp‘s men beat Antonio Conte‘s table-topping Chelsea they’ll cut the gap to just seven points with 15 games to go. Game on for Liverpool and the rest of the PL. However, a defeat would mean Liverpool’s title hopes will be all but over and the Blues will be 13 points clear of them. 

Liverpool did beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge back in September but since then Conte’s men have gone on an incredible run, winning 15 of their next 17 games to open up an eight-point lead at the summit. For Liverpool, they’ve lost their last three games, all at home, in the space of a week with Klopp’s men dumped out of both the EFL Cup and FA Cup plus losing to lowly Swansea in the PL.

In team news Sadio Mane could return for Liverpool after Senegal were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations. Chelsea have no new injury worries but Branislav Ivanovic and Asmir Begovic may not feature as they edge closer to moves away from Stamford Bridge.

What they’re saying

Klopp on Liverpool finishing in top four: “It’s very important we build on the good things. Is it allowed to go for the best position in the Premier League? I really think we should try everything to make the best of the base we made. Stay positive. It’s possible we could qualify for Champions League.”

Conte on respecting Liverpool: “Liverpool’s recent results are difficult to explain and I feel they have been unlucky. We have grown since our first meeting with Liverpool and we have improved a lot in terms of our identity and confidence.  When you face teams of the same level it’s important to win for confidence, but the difficulty is high. Liverpool have their own identity and that makes them stronger – they play 4-3-3 When you change your system, you lose your identity and it makes it easier for other teams to beat you.   I want my team to fight to win in every game. Both teams want to win so it could be an open game tomorrow.”

Prediction

What a horrendous week for Liverpool. We will see a reaction from Klopp’s side and Mane’s return, even if he only plays 30 minutes, will be a big boost. Still, it’s tough to see a weakness in this Chelsea team and their counter-attack is perfect to catch Liverpool just like Swansea, Southampton and Wolves have in recent weeks. 2-1 to Chelsea.