Liverpool make the trip to Stamford Bridge for a date with Chelsea in what promises to be the most pivotal match of Matchday 19.
The Reds were top of the Premier League table heading into Christmas, but a loss on Boxing Day to Manchester City saw them fall to fourth. That allowed the Blues to move into third.
There's also the added storyline of this being the first time Luis Suarez has played Chelsea since he bit Branislav Ivanovic last season. That was one of the biggest stories of last season, and you can bet plenty of announcers and pundits will zero in on the Uruguayan at all times to see if there's any sort of repeat of last April
Here's a quick look at what should be a captivating fixture.
When: Sunday, Dec. 29, at 11 a.m. ET/4 p.m. GMT
Where: Stamford Bridge, London
TV: NBC Sports Network (US); Sky Sports 1 (UK)
Odds (via Bloomberg Sports)
Chelsea Win: 44.5 percent
Liverpool Win: 30.7 percent
Draw: 24.8 percent
Top Storyline: Will Liverpool break down organized Chelsea defense?
Against the top sides, Jose Mourinho isn't afraid to play an ultra-pragmatic style. He'd rather take the draw than entertain the possibility of handing a fellow title contender three points. It doesn't make for a great spectacle, but the strategy has served the Special One well throughout his managerial career.
Mourinho is also never one to shy away from playing mind games. Although many will consider Liverpool title contenders, you can bet the Chelsea manager was looking to heap more pressure on the Reds with this comment, via Sky Sports:
I think they can (win the Premier League), because they are good, because Brendan is good, because they have time to prepare the team tactically, because they are not involved in the heat of the knock-out situation in the Champions League or even Europa League
These (Chelsea) players are going to play 60 matches. Liverpool will play 40 matches. It's a big difference.
Quality, plus ambition, plus this advantage, so yes (they are contenders).
Despite the absence of Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool have performed well. Before their 2-1 loss to Manchester City, they were riding a four-game winning streak. Suarez is one of the most in-form players in the world, while Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho have performed well in midfield.
The problem for the Reds is that so much of the attack revolves around Suarez. He's scored 19 goals and the next closest player has nine, and that's Sturridge.
Chelsea will surround the Uruguayan defender at all times and despite his otherworldly talent, he could get marked out of the game. That would spell big trouble for Liverpool, at least in terms of their offensive performance.
However, the Reds created scoring chances in the second half against City, despite Manuel Pellegrini adopting a more defensive style. Perhaps they can unlock what will be a tough Chelsea defense.
This match has draw written all over it. Neither team looks like it will go for the win with reckless abandon.
The way the Reds were ripped apart on the counter by City will likely make Brendan Rodgers think twice about playing too openly, and Mourinho naturally bunkers in when playing fellow top-four/title contenders.
Maybe Liverpool or Chelsea can snatch a goal, but more than likely, the match will become bogged down the midfield, with both sides struggling to create anything in the final third.
Chelsea 0, Liverpool 0
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