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A Super Sunday Humdinger

Sunday 14 April | Anfield | 17:30

Liverpool and Chelsea do battle in a Super Sunday humdinger as the Reds chase their first-ever Premier League title, while the Blues will be hoping to avoid a second consecutive season without Champions League football. The race for the top four seems to be just as interesting as the title race, so both teams will be pushing all the way for a victory here. Any slip-ups and you’re gone. It’s been that close this season. Jurgen Klopp’s men lead the standings with 82 points, while Maurizio Sarri’s charges reclaimed their place in the top four, moving to third with a 2-0 win over West Ham on Monday night.

To win
Liverpool 6/10
Draw 33/10
Chelsea 9/2

Liverpool

With just five games to go, Liverpool will surely feel like they’re almost there as Jurgen Klopp’s side look for their first piece of silverware under the tutelage of the German mentor. The Reds have made two European finals, but have still never looked this good.

If Liverpool do eventually miss out on the league title, it would really be unfortunate and perhaps Klopp’s men will forever be known as the best runner-up England has ever seen.

The Reds are complete in every area, with Alisson Becker being the safe hands in goal, while Virgil Van Dijk provides the much-needed steel in their backline, not to mention the frightening full-back pairing of Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Liverpool also have an everlasting engine in midfield with plenty of pace, power and intelligence with Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum pulling the strings, while their dynamic front three is one of the most feared trios across world football.

Sadio Mane, in particular, has been sublime this campaign, netting 17 times in the league, while Golden Boot holder, Mohamed Salah, will relish the chance of playing against his former club, especially after ending his goal drought last weekend, scoring his 18th league goal of the campaign against Southampton.

That goal also set an astonishing record for the Egyptian with Salah becoming the fastest player to reach 50 Premier League goals for Liverpool.

But my personal favourite in Liverpool’s fearsome front three has to be Roberto Firmino. When he is off the pace, the entire team is. Although the goal contribution statistics haven’t been too convincing, Firmino can always produce a moment of magic at any given moment, and, the Brazilian has an excellent record against London clubs this season, netting a hat-trick against Arsenal, while also finishing a fine header against Tottenham. A goal this weekend would see Firmino cap off the big ‘London trifecta’ in style, while Liverpool’s title chances will massively be boosted in the process.

Chelsea

Chelsea moved one step closer in their quest to return to the UEFA Champions League after a well-deserved 2-0 victory over London rivals, West Ham, on Monday night.

It was positives all round for the Blues as they kept yet another clean sheet, while Eden Hazard stole the show, netting a brace, including a brilliant solo effort, taking his tally up to 16 league goals. Along with Hazard’s excellent assist record, the Belgian has contributed to 28 goals this term, having a hand in 12 goals finished off by his teammates. That’s a goal contribution of just under 50% of Chelsea’s goals for the magical wizard.

If Hazard were to continue his sublime form this weekend, it wouldn’t be the first time that Chelsea’s number 10 has tormented the Liverpool team, with the Belgian national team captain producing yet another superb solo goal which knocked the Reds out of their first domestic tournament, the Carabao Cup.

In recent weeks, it also seems like Maurizio Sarri is starting to get his team selection spot on, with Callum Hudson-Odoi now being given regular game time, as well as fellow England prospect, Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Perhaps the only decision which seems questionable is the decision to play Gonzalo Higuain instead of Olivier Giroud, with the Argentine struggling to find his feet since his move from Italy. Higuain has started in nine of the 10 games he’s been in the league, netting against Huddersfield and Fulham only, with both clubs’ relegation now confirmed.

Believe it or not, Chelsea are unbeaten at Anfield since May 2012, so despite their recent struggles this season, the Blues could have the psychological edge over their opponents here.

Probable line-ups:

Liverpool: 4-3-3
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Chelsea: 4-3-3
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Jorginho, Kante, Loftus-Cheek; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.

Prediction: Draw (33/10)
Liverpool have done superbly well against the big six sides at home this season, while Chelsea have struggled miserably away to England’s biggest heavyweights. Although it seems pretty straightforward on paper, I’m expecting a much tighter affair. Hazard has certainly been in the mood and the Liverpool camp will know all about his fancy footwork. The Reds have been known as the biggest chokers in the league, and its this game that I’m expecting Klopp’s men to slip-up in their pursuit for the title, albeit against a Chelsea team, who have been a hoodoo side to come up against. Be brave like me and put your money on a draw here at 33/10.

Jesse Nagel

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