Premier League: Desperate Chelsea look to drag high-flying Liverpool into a situation of uncomfortable familiarity

Liverpool are flying. A Champions League final awaits them at the end of the league season, but there’s so much more to Jurgen Klopp’s team that makes one believe in claims of the ‘good old’ days returning to Anfield.
The Reds are exciting to watch again, there is a swagger in their game, and most importantly, they are a team to be feared. Anfield is no longer the edgy, nervy place that it was under the likes of Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. The Kop have found their mojo back thanks to a spirited German who is as passionate to succeed as any one of them. Whether Liverpool have discovered their lost glory is a matter of debate, but it’s a notion that’s getting difficult to debate against.
The same cannot be said of Chelsea, Liverpool’s opponents in the Premier League on Sunday. A scrap to get into the Champions League isn’t something one associates with Chelsea of the past decade, but their current plight just 12 months on from a remarkable title triumph does give a sense of deja vu.
Chelsea will have to bring the best game to the table to have a chance of beating Liverpool in the Premier League. AFPChelsea will have to bring the best game to the table to have a chance of beating Liverpool in the Premier League. AFP
The Blues head into Sunday’s encounter at Stamford Bridge six points adrift of the Reds but having played a game less. The gulf wouldn’t have been that alarming had it not been Gameweek 37. Chelsea are running out of time to complete a late recovery that puts them in the Champions League spots, and despite Tottenham Hotspur’s defeat on Saturday, their situation remains desperate.
Antonio Conte isn’t often the one resorting to mind games. He will be the first one to express his displeasure without mincing his words. Ask the Chelsea board or even Jose Mourinho.
But ahead of the all-important clash with Liverpool that could determine the destiny of his team’s season, Conte appeared to have deviated from his usual path. The Italian suggested a team has to be “lucky” to succeed in the Champions League, while the true test of a team’s calibre is tested in a league competition that spans across 38 games.
Conte’s Chelsea could be level on points with the Reds when the final round of matches in the Premier League come around and the Italian, who has won several league titles in his career, underlined the significance of the league position just at the time when Liverpool could be forgiven for taking an eye off it.
It may eventually prove to be a double-edged sword as the Italian’s words may end up firing up the Reds for an encounter they might otherwise have chosen to take a bit lightly. However, the Chelsea manager may look at it as a way to disrupt Liverpool’s focus. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Conte has decided to go down that way.